Constitutional Law

7th Circuit refuses to block Indiana abortion restrictions

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shutterstock_Abortion Restriction paper, gavel and stethoscop

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The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago has allowed Indiana to continue enforcement of several abortion restrictions pending an appeal by Whole Woman’s Health Alliance.

In a 2-1 decision Sept. 8, the appeals court allowed these requirements to remain in force:

• Only physicians may provide medication abortions.

• Second-trimester abortions may be performed only in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.

• Abortion counseling and physical exams must be conducted in person.

• Telemedicine may not be used in abortion care.

The plaintiffs had contended that developments in videoconferencing made it possible to drop in-person meetings, that improvements in medicine made the use of hospitals or surgical centers unnecessary, and that nurses are competent to approve and monitor medication-induced abortions.

But the appeals court said the contested provisions had been in force for years, and allowing them to remain in force would preserve the status quo pending appeal.

The appeals court also said Indiana had made a strong showing on the merits to obtain a stay, citing U.S. Supreme Court opinions upholding similar provisions.

Dissenting Judge Diane Wood wrote that the case “is not the open-and-shut matter that it apparently seems to my colleagues.”

Wood argued that the judges in the majority “are overreading the Supreme Court’s decisions” and ignoring factual differences between precedent and the instant case. and the Indianapolis Star (via How Appealing) have coverage of the case, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance v. Rokita.

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