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Judge Rules Against Law Restricting Medical Abortions

abortion clinic

A U.S. district judge ruled yesterday that an Indiana law that would impose new requirements on abortion clinics that provide only chemical, and not surgical, abortions, is unconstitutional.

The law’s requirements do not extend to the offices of private physicians who administer the drug, so it only affects one existing location – a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette.

Siding with Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson wrote in her opinion that the law, which redefines abortion clinics to include facilities that provide the abortion pill mifepristone, sometimes known by its trade name Mifeprex, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

"[The law] allows the State to arbitrarily divide medication abortion providers into two groups—“abortion clinics” and undefined “physician’s offices”—and treat those groups differently, without a rational basis for doing so, by requiring “abortion clinics” but not “physician’s offices” to meet the physical plant requirements at issue," Stinson writes.

Stinson granted Planned Parenthood's request for a preliminary injunction last year, temporarily halting the state law from going into effect.

The ruling is not a final judgment, however, so the state cannot appeal at this time.

A trial on the issue is scheduled for June 2015, but Judge Stinson is asking the parties meet before then to decide if the trial is still necessary to resolve "remaining pending claims."

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General said in a statement that more court proceedings are likely.

“We respect the court’s ruling and also respect the authority of the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature to make policy regarding physical plant requirements for nonsurgical abortion clinics," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. "As there is no final ruling yet, we will consult with our clients on additional legal proceedings in the defense of this Indiana statute and explore other options.”

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