Indiana Court Allows Abortion Funding in Some Situations

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 25, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Indiana Court Allows Abortion Funding in Some Situations

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 25, 2003

Indianapolis, IN ( — The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that state residents may use taxpayer funding from the state Medicare program to pay for abortions in some situations.

The 3-2 vote allows poor women in Indiana to receive taxpayer funded abortions if their pregnancies are creating a "health risk" and the abortion is "medically necessary."

In the past, pro-life laws prohibited state funding of abortions unless necessary to save the mother’s life or in cases of rape and incest. Under the law, the state paid for no abortions during the past year.

The new exception covers pregnant women at "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment," Justice Frank Sullivan wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision does not allow the state to pay for all abortions or even for all medically necessary abortions, only some. However, pro-life groups are concerned that won’t be the case.

Indiana Right to Life director Mike Fichter told he was worried the decision would "greatly expand coverage for abortions in Indiana through the
taxpayer-funded Medicaid program."

Fichter predicts that abortion businesses will use the "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" provision allowed by the Court to justify virtually all abortions in Indiana.

"This will provide a loophole big enough to drive a truck though," says Fichter. "It appears that all it will take to get an abortion paid for at taxpayer expense is the
clinical judgment of the doctor performing the abortion."

Two abortion practitioners, the Clinic for Women abortion business in Indianapolis, and the Women’s Pavilion abortion facility in South Bend sued the state in 1999. Mary Hoeller, an attorney who represented them, said they were not seeking coverage for all abortions.

Hoeller claims the pro-life law prohibiting the abortion funding violated the rights of poor women under the state constitution.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Brent Dickson dissented and said the state legislature should set the abortion funding policy for the state. Dickson, in a separate dissent, called this an "alarming expansion" of Medicaid coverage and said the new standard would allow doctors to find any reason to justify an abortion.

Fichter agrees. "A lot of hard working Hoosiers have just been presented with the bill for the killing of unborn babies in Indiana," he said.

In October 2000, Marion Superior Court Judge Susan Macey Thompson ruled the state must pay for all medically necessary abortions. The state appealed the decision.

Related web sites:
Supreme Court Decision –
Indiana Right to Life –