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Planned Parenthood, ACLU Sue to Block Indiana Law Designed to Close Lafayette Clinic

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The lawsuit claims a new law, which changed the definition of "abortion clinic" to include facilities that provide only the abortion pill Mifepristone to terminate a pregnancy, unconstitutionally targets one clinic.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Indiana, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) against the Indiana State Department of Health and the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor in U.S. District Court, challenging a new set of anti-abortion restrictions as unconstitutional.

According to the lawsuit, SEA 371 singles out one particular health center in Lafayette, Indiana, for “a host of unnecessary new restrictions,” making it discriminatory and unconstitutional. Passed in the 2013 legislative session, SEA 371 changed the definition of “abortion clinic” to include facilities that provide only the abortion pill Mifepristone to terminate a pregnancy. Mifepristone is a safe, non-surgical abortion option used during the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers also amended state law to require clinics that offer non-surgical abortions to meet the same physical requirements as clinics that provide the surgical procedure. These new regulations will require PPINK to renovate its facility by January 1, 2014, in order to meet surgical standards, such as having separate procedure, recovery, and scrub rooms, even though no surgical procedures are performed there. According to the complaint, the law affects only the Lafayette clinic, and does not apply to private physicians’ offices providing the same procedure.

“This law is clearly part of a coordinated national effort to end access to safe, legal abortion by trying to shut down Planned Parenthood health-care centers, which also provide Pap tests, breast and testicular exams, birth control, and STD testing and treatment,” said Betty Cockrum, CEO of PPINK in a statement.

“These legislative changes specifically targeting Planned Parenthood’s Lafayette health center are not reasonably related to any legitimate purpose,” said Ken Falk, legal director of ACLU of Indiana. “The laws irrationally and invidiously discriminate against Planned Parenthood and pose a significant and unnecessary burden that violates the Constitution’s guarantees of privacy, due process and equal protection.”

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PPINK is requesting that the U.S. District Court issue an injunction to stop the state regulations from taking effect.

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