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Planned Parenthood and ACLU sue Indiana over ultrasound requirement

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky have filed a federal lawsuit demanding a preliminary injunction against Indiana’s law requiring an ultrasound eighteen hours before abortion.

They argue the law imposes an “undue burden” on women’s “right” to abortion, because the wait means low-income women must “make two lengthy trips to obtain an abortion or pay for an overnight stay.”

They also contend abortion access will be hindered by Planned Parenthood’s “few” facilities with ultrasound equipment becoming more crowded. 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.”

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Additionally, while the “undue burden” test carries weight in modern jurisprudence, contributing to the US Supreme Court striking down Texas’s HB2 abortion law, it is is problematic as “undue burden” does not have a precise or objective legal meaning and is therefore subject to the biased interpretation of any individual judge. No text in the Constitution expressly forbids states from regulating or even prohibiting abortion.

The disputed provision is part of a broader pro-life law signed by Governor Mike Pence in March. Its bans on abortions sought for race or genetic abnormalities were blocked last week.

The office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says it will review the suit and “file a response in federal court at the appropriate time.”

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