Today, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a challenge to an Indiana abortion law that 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. In December, the Center for Reproductive Rights asked the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the waiting period law on behalf of several Indiana clinics.
"This law places unnecessary, burdensome obstacles in the path of women seeking abortions while serving no actual health purpose. We are severely disappointed that the Supreme Court failed to act in this case and fear for the health of women in Indiana," said Simon Heller, Of Counsel with the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead counsel on the case.
The Center for Reproductive Rights 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 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 of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Mary Hoeller, an Indianapolis attorney, and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union represent the plaintiffs in A Woman’s Choice v. Newman. Plaintiffs include A Woman's Choice-East Side Women's Clinic, A Clinic for Women, and Indianapolis Women's Facility, all in Indianapolis, the Fort Wayne Women's Health Organization, Women's Pavilion in South Bend, Planned Parenthood of Central and Southern Indiana, Friendship Family Planning Clinic of Indiana in Gary, and Dr. Ulrich G. Klopfer.