Indiana’s "Two-Trip" Abortion Requirement Temporarily Blocked By Judge after Clinics Challenge Law in State Court

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Indianapolis, IN

Today, an Indiana state court issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state’s mandatory delay abortion law after the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a state court challenge on behalf of several Indiana reproductive health clinics. The "two-trip" law forces women seeking abortions to make two separate trips to their physician’s office – at least 18 hours apart – before they can obtain the procedure. Late Friday, citing the irreparable harm that would be inflicted on women if the law went into effect, the Center asked the court issue the temporary restraining order, which will remain in effect for 10 days. A hearing for a preliminary injunction will be held on March 11, if the injunction is granted, the law will remain blocked until the case is finally decided by the trial court. Last Thursday, the Center filed a complaint in state court challenging Indiana’s abortion regulations. The state court challenge follows a long history of legal battles in the federal courts.

"We are pleased that this harmful law is not immediately taking effect and we believe that under the safeguards of Indiana’s state constitution, we can prevent it from ever taking effect. The state constitution provides strong protection for the rights of its citizens, including the right of women to make fundamental decisions about whether and when to have children," said Simon Heller, Of Counsel with the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead counsel on the case. "Laws like this one violate the rights of women seeking abortions, while serving no actual health purpose – and we have therefore asked the court to stop it from going into effect before it can harm the women of this state," added Heller.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Center’s challenge to Indiana’s "two-trip" requirement. In December, the Center petitioned the Supreme Court to take the case after a 2002 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which found that the law did not place an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose. The ruling reversed U.S. District Court Judge David Hamilton’s decision that the two-trip requirement was unconstitutional because it would likely prevent 10-13% of Indiana women from obtaining the procedure.

Passed in 1995, Indiana’s waiting period law requires women to make two separate trips to an abortion provider before they can obtain the procedure, they must receive a state-mandated lecture designed to discourage the abortion choice at least 18 hours before the procedure is performed. As medical experts had testified at the federal trial, mandatory delay requirements serve no actual health purpose and are intended to discourage abortion as an option. By requiring that women receive the information in person, the Indiana law increases the expenses incurred by women, including those associated with travel and time off from work. The requirement that women make two separate trips to the clinic is particularly burdensome for women seeking second-trimester abortions. There is only one clinic in the state, located in Indianapolis, which performs abortions after the first trimester.

Simon Heller and Janet Crepps of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Mary Hoeller, an Indianapolis attorney, represent the plaintiffs in Clinic for Women v. Brizzi. Plaintiffs include Clinic for Women, Inc., Women's Medical Professional Corporation, all in Indianapolis, the Fort Wayne Women's Health Organization, Inc., Women's Pavilion Inc., in South Bend, Planned Parenthood of Central and Southern Indiana, Inc., Friendship Family Planning Clinic of Indiana in Gary, and Dr. Ulrich G. Klopfer. Ken Falk, of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, also represents Planned Parenthood.