The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling blocking legislation forcing women to undergo ultrasounds at least 18 hours before terminating their pregnancies.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued the initial injunction in April 2017 and the federal appeals court affirmed her ruling this week, The Associated Press reported.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was serving as governor of Indiana at the time, signed the bill into law in 2016. The measure also barred women from seeking abortions based “solely” on “race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.”
In her decision Thursday, Appeals Court Judge Ilana Rovner said the policy “constitutes an undue burden on those seeking an abortion” by requiring some women to face lengthy travel and additional expenses.
Jane Henegar, executive director of the Indiana chapter of American Civil Liberties Union, praised the federal judge’s ruling:
"Deeply personal decisions about abortion should be made by women in consultation with their doctors, not politicians pursuing an extreme ideological agenda.”– Jane Henegar, ACLU-IN Executive Director
— ACLU of Indiana (@ACLUIndiana) July 26, 2018
Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fitcher denounced the ruling, claiming its blockage in 2017 has already led to an increase in the number of abortions in the state.
“Sadly, many women will proceed with having an abortion without ever seeing the humanity of their unborn babies on display through ultrasound imaging,” he said in a statement. “Abortion providers continue doing everything they can to block women from being fully informed prior to an abortion decision.”
Fitcher pointed to the fact that in the second half of 2016 when the ultrasound law was in effect, the number of abortions actually decreased to 3,317, The Indianapolis Star reported. When the legislation was blocked, the rate of abortions went up.
“Activist judges blocked Indiana’s ultrasound requirement in early 2017, and now we’re paying the price in rising abortions,” he wrote in a blog post earlier this month. “We can only imagine how many lives would have been spared if these laws had been able to take effect.”