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The Journal Gazette

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Monday, September 25, 2017 10:29 am

Judge permanently blocks parts of abortion law

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS - A federal judge has permanently struck down several provisions of a restrictive abortion law passed by state legislators in 2016.

A preliminary injunction had already been granted blocking the law but Judge Tanya Walton Pratt dismissed the case in favor of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky on Friday.

The state Attorney General's Office can appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Two major provisions of the law are impacted.

The first was an "anti-discrimination" section that banned women from getting abortions if the reason was because the fetus was determined to have Down Syndrome or other disability. It also banned abortions on the basis of sex, race, national origin or ancestry.

But Pratt ruled the U.S. Supreme Court and subsequent court rulings protect a woman's right to seek an abortion before the fetus is viable.

"The anti-discrimination provisions of HEA 1337 clearly violate the first of these principles, in that they prevent women from obtaining abortions before fetal viability," the ruling said "The woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy pre-viability is categorical: A state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability."

Before then, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that “the state's interests are not strong enough to support a prohibition of abortion," Pratt ruled.

The second provision that was overturned was one requiring that fetal tissue be treated as human remains and either be buried or cremated.

Under current law the woman can determine to bury, cremate, or otherwise dispose of the fetal tissue herself, or the fetal tissue may be incinerated along with other human surgical byproducts such as organs.

The disputed law would have required a burial transit permit and all remains would be buried or cremated.

Pratt said court precedent does not recognize a fetus as a human being and therefore abortion providers can't be force to treat fetal remains the same.

"Stated otherwise, if the law does not recognize a fetus as a person, there can be no legitimate state interest in requiring an entity to treat an aborted fetus the same as a deceased human," the ruling said.

Pratt added that "whether or not an individual views fetal tissue as essentially the same as human remains is each person's own personal and moral decision."