A federal judge heard arguments on Tuesday challenging Indiana’s new law that bans discriminatory abortions on babies with disabilities.
The Indiana law, which passed in March, bans abortion doctors from knowingly aborting an unborn baby solely because of a genetic disability such as Down syndrome, the unborn baby’s race or sex. The bill also has several other abortion-related measures, including a requirement that aborted babies’ bodies be cremated or buried and another requirement that abortionists who have hospital admitting privileges renew them annually.
Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher defended the law, saying it prohibits the same kind of discrimination that is already prohibited against human beings outside the womb. He said the law applies to abortions only when the sole reason is the unborn baby’s diagnosis of a disability, race or sex.
ACLU lawyer Ken Falk, however, argued that the law violates women’s right to privacy involving a “very personal decision.”
“You can’t discriminate against a fetus,” Falk added in response to Fisher’s argument.
Here is more from the report:
The state argued that technological advances in prenatal testing have changed the context of the abortion debate, creating new scenarios that didn’t exist during previous cases. Fisher said an increase in the availability of less risky pregnancy screenings opens the opportunity for discrimination.
Fisher also said that society has come to better understand the dangers of discrimination and the importance of protecting against it.
Planned Parenthood also contested two other parts of the abortion law. It objected to a provision that requires abortion providers to bury or cremate fetal remains. That would treat aborted fetuses like a deceased person instead of a surgical byproduct, Falk said, when the fetus wouldn’t have been a viable living being.
Planned Parenthood contends that the provision is inconsistent, because a patient who takes possession of the fetal remains doesn’t have to follow the same regulations.
The organization also said a requirement that abortion providers inform patients of the new law violates free speech, because it “compels PPINK’s [Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky] medical staff to become the state’s mouthpiece.”
After hearing the arguments, Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said she would decide “very soon” whether to grant Planned Parenthood’s request to block the law. The law is scheduled to go into effect July 1.
ABC News reports Pratt appeared to be leaning on the side of abortion activists. According to the report, Pratt sounded skeptical of the state’s arguments and said the law may infringe on women’s right to an abortion.
At one point, Pratt asked the state solicitor general, “How can it be described as anything but a prohibition on the right to an abortion?”
Pro-lifers in Indiana believe Pratt, who was appointed by pro-abortion President Barack Obama, will side with the abortion business and block the law from taking effect.
“Judge Pratt was appointed by the most pro-abortion president in history and she has a history of being sympathetic to the abortion lobby,” said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “In 2011, Judge Pratt famously sided with Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. She blocked provisions of a historic law that denied public funding to abortion businesses and informed pregnant women of the unborn child’s ability to feel pain.”
Fichter said he believes the Dignity for the Unborn law is constitutional and will eventually be upheld in court “even if we face a setback” with Pratt.
“No child deserves a death sentence because of his or her gender, race, national origin or negative prenatal diagnosis,” Fichter said. “This law brings compassion to the child and the mother, including through measures like providing information on perinatal hospice.”
In 2013, North Dakota became the first state to pass a similar bill to protect unborn babies from abortions because of disabilities. A handful of states also ban abortions based solely on the baby’s sex.