A U.S. federal judge on Friday blocked Indiana law banning a second-trimester abortion procedure from taking effect, just days before it was set to become enforceable legislation.
The House Enrolled Act 1211, which was set to take effect on July 1, was put on hold after Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an injunction blocking its enactment. In her 53-page-order, the judge described the Indiana legislation as one that would ban “an abortion procedure known to medicine as ‘dilation and evacuation,'” also referred to as the “dismemberment abortion” by its pro-life critics.
Barker cited safety as the reason for her decision: “HEA 1211 prohibits physicians from utilizing the most common, safest, often most cost effective, and best understood method of second trimester abortion, requiring 52 instead resort to alternatives that are medically riskier, more costly, less reliable, and in some instances simply unavailable, while accomplishing little more than expressing hostility towards the constitutionally fundamental right of women to control their own reproductive lives as established in Roe [v. Wade],” she wrote in the ruling.
The decision was announced just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a judgment against a similar law proposal in Alabama to ban dilation and evacuation abortions.
Under the law, which was initially passed in April by the state’s GOP-dominated Legislature, doctors caught performing such abortions could be charged with a felony crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
In late April, a day after the bill was signed into law by the state’s governor, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a lawsuit challenging the measure on behalf of two doctors.
The law would place a “substantial and unwarranted burden on women’s ability to obtain second-trimester, pre-viability, abortions,” ACLU said. Indiana attorneys argued that the state was within its jurisdiction to limit abortion rights by referencing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2017 which allowed a ban on the method.
In a statement, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill indicated he will likely appeal the ruling, according to Associated Press. “I continue to believe that Indiana has a compelling interest in protecting the value and dignity of fetal life by banning a particularly brutal and inhumane procedure,” he said.
Chris Charbonneau, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, suggested that Indiana’s Republican-led Legislature passed the law without expecting it to be upheld. “I think they’re passing these things as red meat to the right-wing base to make it look like they are actually doing something,” he added.