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Abortion Fights in State and Federal Courts

This week, the US House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that will prohibit some abortions after 20 weeks. Please read Judie Brown’s commentary in this e-newsletter to understand why American Life League cannot support this and all other “incremental” legislation.

There was a confusing array of court decisions this week regarding attempts by several states to limit abortion access in the states. Here are the highlights:

  • Indiana – US district judge Tanya Walton Pratt struck down an Indiana law (House Bill 1337) that would ban abortion doctors from knowingly aborting an unborn baby solely because of a genetic disability such as Down syndrome or the unborn baby’s race or sex. Pratt found the law to be “unconstitutional” and granted an order, requested by Planned Parenthood, that would block it from being enforced. Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill told local media outlets that he plans to appeal Pratt’s ruling. Hill told the Indianapolis Star that the judge’s decision cleared the path for “genetic discrimination that once seemed like science fiction.”
  • Iowa – A Polk County judge, Jeffrey Farrell, ruled Monday that an Iowa law requiring a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion does not impose an “undue burden” and is legal. Planned Parenthood immediately said it will appeal the ruling. The law will not be implemented until the appeal is decided.
  • Missouri – The same appeals court that blocked Planned Parenthood from opening new abortion facilities in Missouri in September reversed its decision this week. PP can now legally obtain abortion licenses at its clinics in Columbia, Joplin, and Springfield. No reason was given for the change in the decision. Planned Parenthood is rushing to obtain the necessary licenses.
  • Arkansas – The US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week against Planned Parenthood and allowed an Arkansas law restricting the use of the abortion pill (Mifiprex) to go into effect. This week Planned Parenthood filed paperwork asking the court to not allow the ruling to go into effect yet—pending a planned appeal to the US Supreme Court. If PP is successful, it will continue to kill babies by abortion at clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville while it appeals (which may take years). In a response filed Wednesday, Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge asked the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals to deny the request, allowing the state to immediately implement the law.
  • Maine – In a not-yet-decided lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and ACLU of Maine filed a challenge to a 1979 state law that bars nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives from performing abortions. Under Maine law, you must be a physician to kill babies through abortion. Only California, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Vermont allow non-physicians to commit abortions.

In addition to the court decisions, Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed a bill into law last Friday that will now force taxpayers to pay for all abortions, for any reason, for those on Medicaid and who are state employees.