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New hearing date set for Indiana ultrasound lawsuit

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U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has set November 9 as the date for a hearing on Indiana’s recently enacted requirement that women seeking abortions undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours beforehand.

The requirement (part of a broader pro-life law signed by Governor Mike Pence in March) took effect on July 1. The new hearing date was delayed from October 28, at the behest of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and Indiana filed a lawsuit claiming it was unconstitutional, because the added cost and time of potentially having to make two trips would constitute a de facto obstacle on the “right” to abortion.

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However, ultrasounds are already routine in most abortions, casting suspicion on the claim. Further, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of 24-hour waiting periods as “rationally further[ing] the State’s legitimate interest in maternal health and in unborn life.”

If abortion advocates succeed in striking down the law, it would not necessarily eliminate the ultrasound requirement entirely; the law could simply revert to the previous status quo where ultrasounds were required before abortions without a specific time frame mandated by law.

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