Supreme Court Reverses Ruling That Overturned Indiana Law Saving Babies From Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 2, 2020   |   11:00AM   |   Washington, DC

The Supreme Court today reversed a ruling by a federal appeals curt overturning an Indiana law that allows women a chance to see an ultrasound of their baby before an abortion. Such laws have helped women and saved countless lives of unborn children after mothers learn about the development of their baby.

The decision comes just days after it disappointed pro-life advocates by overturning a Louisiana law that protect women’s health and saved unborn children from abortions.

The ultrasound law, part of the 2016 Dignity for the Unborn Act signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence, states that women considering abortion be provided with the opportunity to view a fetal ultrasound at least 18 hours prior to an abortion. The ultrasound law was blocked because of a lawsuit brought by Indiana’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Indiana’s ultrasound provision, credit with saving hundreds of babies from abortion before it was reversed, was blocked through a preliminary injunction in April 2017 and it was eventually overturned by a federal appeals court.

But today, the Supreme Court set aside that appeals court ruling. It granted review, vacated, and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which denied en banc review in October 2018. This decision gives the law new life and a new chance for Indiana officials to argue for its constitutionality in front of the appeals court.

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 Planned Parenthood abortion chain sued, and a federal judge blocked the law.

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. Yet, 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 ultrasound provision was blocked, abortions spiked to 3,813 in Indiana, a 13 percent increase compared to 2016.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

The case is Box v. Planned Parenthood of Ind. & Ky., Inc., U.S., No. 18-1019, review granted, vacated, and remanded 7/2/20.