A federal judge has blocked a law in Indiana that forces women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion. After so many assaults on freedom to choose this year, including Ohio banning abortions after 24 weeks, this is def a glimmer of hope for pro-choicers!
Making positive moves on the pro-choice front, the Indiana ultrasound mandate was blocked because U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled that the requirement is likely unconstitutional and creates “clearly undue” burdens on women — especially low-income women. The judge’s ruling, which was issued late on Mar. 31, grants a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the ultrasound waiting period.
“Simply put, the State has not provided any convincing evidence that requiring an ultrasound to occur 18 hours prior to an abortion, rather than on the day of an abortion, makes it any more likely that a woman will choose not to have an abortion,” Tanya wrote. She added that the mandate “likely creates an undue burden on women’s constitutional rights.”
What started this whole thing was when Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued the state last July, claiming the ultrasound mandate was unconstitutional and would prevent some women from getting abortions. Specifically, Tanya’s ruling said the waiting period “creates significant financial and other burdens” on Planned Parenthood and its patients, particularly low-income women who face lengthy travel to one of only six Planned Parenthood health centers that can offer an informed-consent ultrasound appointment.
And as it turns out, being forced to view an ultrasound actually doesn’t have a significant effect on women rethinking an abortion. In her ruling, Tanya cited a study of 15,000 women served by Planned Parenthood that found 99 percent of women proceeded with an abortion after not viewing an ultrasound, compared with 98.4 percent who DID view an ultrasound. So it looks like the ultrasound doesn’t make much of a difference after all!
This ultrasound mandate is part of a wide-ranging abortion restrictions law that went into place on July 1, 2016, which is just one day after Judge Pratt blocked the law’s provision that would have banned abortions sought because of a fetus’ genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. The judge also blocked a provision requiring that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated. Vice President Mike Pence, then-Indiana Gov., signed the legislation into law in March 2016.
However, Indiana is far from the only state to have such a requirement. In fact, 13 other states also require women to have in-person abortion counseling hours or days before actually getting an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some 26 states also have regulations controlling ultrasounds and abortions, and three require that an ultrasound be performed at least 24 hours before an abortion.
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — are you happy this Indiana law was blocked?