Court Sides With Planned Parenthood, Strikes Indiana Law Allowing Women to See Ultrasound Before Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 26, 2018   |   9:50AM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Planned Parenthood succeeded in court this week against an Indiana law that requires abortion facilities to offer women the chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby at least 18 hours before an abortion.

On Wednesday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court judge’s ruling blocking the law, Law 360 reports.

Indiana has long required that an ultrasound be done before an abortion, but, in 2016, the law was updated to require that the ultrasound be done at least 18 hours before an abortion. Women also are required to received informed consent information at least 18 hours prior to an abortion.

The abortion chain sued, and a federal judge blocked the law. The state appealed, but on Wednesday, the circuit court upheld the block.

While the Seventh Circuit panel acknowledged the purpose of the law is legitimate, it argued the state failed to present evidence that the law would have an impact on saving lives, Indiana Public Media reports.

Here’s more from the report:

Planned Parenthood argued that rule meant women would have to make two separate trips of sometimes hundreds of miles for the procedure.

A federal judge sided with Planned Parenthood last year. And now the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling. The appellate court says the state’s only evidence the 18-hour rule has an impact was a single anecdote from one doctor. Instead, the court decided the law’s effect is to “place barriers” between a woman and her right to an abortion.

Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter, in comments to LifeNews, denouncing the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling blocking Indiana’s 18-hour ultrasound requirement prior to an abortion.

“The court’s ruling denies women the right to see ultrasound images of their unborn babies at least 18 hours before an abortion. The blockage of this law in 2017 is already resulting in a sharp rise in abortions in Indiana, as well as a major spike in out-of-state women coming to Indiana for abortions. Sadly, many women will proceed with having an abortion without ever seeing the humanity of their unborn babies on display through ultrasound imaging. Abortion providers continue doing everything they can to block women from being fully informed prior to an abortion decision. Once again, the Seventh Circuit is playing politics by blocking common sense legislation passed by overwhelming majorities in the Indiana legislature. We urge the Indiana Attorney General to appeal this ruling and fervently hope it will be argued before a Supreme Court bench that includes Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”

Fichter said Indiana’s abortion numbers rose dramatically in 2017 following the blockage of Indiana’s ultrasound law by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. The increase of 496 abortions in 2017 compared to 2016 marks the first upward swing in abortions in Indiana since 2009, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s newly-released 2017 Induced Terminated Pregnancy Report.

He told LifeNews that Indiana’s Dignity for the Unborn Act, signed into law by Governor Mike Pence in 2016, contained a requirement that any woman seeking an abortion must be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound of her unborn baby at least 18 hours prior to an abortion. The ultrasound provision was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood in July 2016 in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt ruling but remained in effect until Pratt’s injunction in April 2017.

Fichter said that, from July through December 2016, while the ultrasound law was in effect, there were 3,317 abortions in Indiana. During the same period of July through December 2017, after the blockage of the law, abortions spiked to 3,813 in Indiana, a 13 percent increase compared to 2016. A significant portion of the increase was due to a massive 33 percent increase in women from out of state coming to Indiana for abortions, with 296 abortions on out of state women in 2017 compared to 222 in 2016.

“In total, there were 496 more abortions done in Indiana from July through December 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. When considering the overall annual increase in abortions in 2017 was 498 compared to 2016, the impact of the blockage of Indiana’s ultrasound law is clear,” Fichter added.

An ultrasound is standard practice prior to an abortion. Planned Parenthood leaders have admitted that their policy requires an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion.

However, its Indiana abortion affiliate claimed the new law would place an undue burden on women’s access to abortion. It argued that Planned Parenthoods in Indiana do not have enough ultrasound machines, and women would have to wait longer and make multiple trips to have abortions under the law.

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It is common practice in the abortion industry to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion. A study by the University of North Carolina and the pro-abortion group IPAS found that 99 percent of Planned Parenthood facilities already perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

What’s more, some of Planned Parenthood’s own executives have admitted that it is the abortion chain’s policy to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

“That’s just the medical standard,” said Adrienne Schreiber, an official at Planned Parenthood’s Washington, D.C., regional office in 2012. “To confirm the gestational age of the pregnancy, before any procedure is done, you do an ultrasound.”

Ultrasounds both before and after the abortion are standard procedure. An ultrasound prior to an abortion helps determine the gestational age of the unborn baby, as well as potentially life-threatening conditions such as ectopic pregnancy. After the procedure, abortion facilities typically perform another ultrasound to make sure they did not leave any parts of the aborted baby in the womb.

If Indiana appeals, the case could head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently, the high court is split evenly with conservative and liberal justices. If President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed, the court would have a 5-4 conservative majority.