Court Affirms Human Life Begins at Conception in Indiana Case

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2011   |   10:59AM   |   Indianapolis, IN

The state of Indiana may have lost the most recent battle in what will be a lengthy lawsuit concerning its ability to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, but two pro-life legal groups say there is a silver lining.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed after Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law in May. Judge Pratt also blocked a portion of the law requiring abortion practitioners to tell women considering an abortion that their unborn child will feel pain as early as 20 weeks into pregnancy. However, she rejected Planned Parenthood’s request that a part of the law be blocked that women be told before an abortion that “human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.”

The order explained that “the language crafted by the legislature in this provision supports a finding that the mandated statement refers exclusively to a growing organism that is a member of the Homo sapiens species.”

Steve Aden, a pro-life attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, hailed that portion of the ruling in comments LifeNews received.

“No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless. Abortionists have done this by telling women that a pre-born baby is just a batch of cells instead of what he or she actually is: a human being. This law ends that deception in Indiana,” he said. “All the court did was recognize the indisputable fact that a biological human life begins at conception. It is false to say anything else.”

The court also disagreed with Planned Parenthood’s argument that the statement is “misleading.”

“Here, the mandated statement states only a biological fact relating to the development of the living organism; therefore, it may be reasonably read to provide accurate, non-misleading information to the patient,” the court wrote. “Under Indiana law, a physician must disclose the facts and risks of a treatment which a reasonably prudent physician would be expected to disclose under like circumstances, and which a reasonable person would want to know.”

Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, also said this portion of the ruling is a pro-life victory. Last month, the Thomas More Society filed a “friend of the Court” brief for Indiana legislators in defense of Indiana’s law.

“We are pleased that Judge Pratt has upheld the concept that life begins at conception,” he said.

“While this is a significant partial victory for Life, we will press on to ensure that the full law will go into effect to defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana,” Brejcha added. “We stand ready to defend Life in other states as they plan to defund Planned Parenthood and require doctors to tell women that life begins at conception.”

Bryan Crobin, a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, said the state will likely appeal the decision concerning the Planned Parenthood funding.