INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge
in Indiana blocked an Indiana law on Wednesday that would have required doctors to inform women
undergoing drug-induced abortions about a disputed treatment that could potentially stop the abortion process.
The temporary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge James Patrick Hanlon in Indianapolis prevents the so-called abortion reversal law passed by Indiana's Republican-dominated Legislature from taking effect on Thursday.
Hanlon found that abortion-rights groups had a "reasonable likelihood" of proving that the requirement would violate abortion providers' free speech
rights, and that the state had not proven the effectiveness of the reversal process, which involves taking a different medication rather than the second of two drugs
used in the procedure.
“While the State may require abortion providers to provide certain types of information to a woman seeking an abortion as part of the informed-consent process, that information must, at a minimum, be truthful and not misleading,” wrote Hanlon, a Trump
The abortion-rights groups that filed the lawsuit
argued that the law's requirement would confuse patients and increase the stigma associated with obtaining an abortion, while also forcing doctors to provide what they consider dubious medical information. Medical groups maintain that the abortion pill "reversal" process is not supported by science
, and there is little information about its safety.
Republican legislators argued that the requirement would ensure that a woman had information about how to stop a medication-induced abortion if she changed her mind. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed it into law in April
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research
group that supports abortion rights
, similar laws are in place in six states: Arkansas
, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah
, while laws in North Dakota
, and Tennessee
have been blocked by legal challenges. A similar law is set to take effect in West Virginia
The Indiana attorney general's office, which is defending the law, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, claiming that the Legislature was acting to protect "fetal life and women's health
“Patients have the right to choose not to take the second pill and pursue alternative options to save their pregnancies,” the office
wrote in a court filing, adding that “denying patients information regarding alternatives should they wish to continue their pregnancies harms women by depriving them of that choice.”
The plaintiffs include Planned Parenthood, which operates abortion clinics in Indianapolis, Merrillville, Bloomington, and Lafayette, as well as groups that operate other clinics in Indianapolis and South Bend, who argue that the requirement unfairly targets doctors who provide abortion drugs and their patients.
“No other healthcare providers are required to inform their patients about experimental medical interventions, the safety and efficacy of which are completely unsupported by reliable scientific evidence, and no other patients are required to receive such information as a condition of treatment,” according to the lawsuit.
Hanlon issued the ruling following a hearing on June 21 at which Dr. George Delgado, a San Diego-area physician and the founder of the Abortion Pill Reversal group, testified that the treatment is safe, citing “50 to 75 successful reversals” he has personally overseen.
Hanlon stated that Indiana officials had the option of including information about the reversal process on a state health department website, which abortion clinics are already required to inform patients about.
According to the most recent state health department data, medication abortions accounted for 44% of the approximately 7,600 abortions performed in Indiana in 2019.
The Indiana law is part of a wave of legislation being pushed in several Republican-led states to restrict medication abortion and prohibit telemedicine abortions.
Over the last decade, Indiana's legislature has enacted a slew of abortion restrictions, many of which have been overturned in court.
Among the challenges, a federal judge ruled in 2019 against the state's ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure known as "dismemberment abortion" in the legislation.
In 2019, the United States Supreme Court
rejected Indiana's appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked the state's ban on abortion based on gender
, race, or disability
, but upheld a portion of the 2016 law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence
requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains following an abortion.