Indiana abortion clinics are accepting patients despite legal changes

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Dr. Jeanne Corwin traveled about two hours Friday from her hometown of Cincinnati to an abortion clinic in Indianapolis, where she saw the clinic’s first 12 patients the day after a judge in Indiana has blocked the state abortion ban.

It’s a trip Corwin has taken several times over the past few months as her medical license from Ohio allows her to sign the paperwork required for Women’s Med patients in Indiana to access care at the clinic. Dayton’s sister.

But with Indiana’s abortion ban temporarily suspended — coupled with a judge’s Sept. 14 blocking of an Ohio ban on nearly all abortions — Women’s Med and other abortion clinics in Indiana began seeing patients again on Friday while anticipating further changes amid the nation’s mercurial access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

“It’s a beacon of hope and common sense,” Corwin said of Thursday’s ruling blocking Indiana’s abortion ban.

A patient who visited the clinic on Friday was an Indianapolis woman who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to confidentiality concerns. It was the 31-year-old’s second abortion, she said. Her first was at 16, when she was afraid to take care of a child and worried about what her parents would think of her being pregnant.

“At the time, I felt like I was too young to have a child,” says the patient. “I can’t even imagine what life would be like now.”

Now focused on a career and with a son she had at 25, the patient said she chose an abortion because she and her partner decided another child would not be better for them in this moment.

Hours after Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction Thursday against Indiana’s abortion ban, the state filed a promised appeal and motion asking the high court of the state to take up the case.

Under Indiana’s ban, which has exceptions, abortion clinics would have lost their license and been barred from providing abortion care, leaving such services only to hospitals or outpatient surgical centers owned to hospitals.

The ban also only allows abortions in cases of rape and incest before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the patient; or if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.

With the Indiana law pending, the ban on abortion at any time during pregnancy is in place in 12 Republican-led states. In Wisconsin, clinics have stopped providing abortions amid litigation over whether an 1849 ban is in effect. Georgia bans abortions once fetal heart activity can be detected. And Florida and Utah have bans that go into effect after 15 and 18 weeks of gestation, respectively.

The state attorney general’s office had asked Hanlon to uphold the state ban, saying the arguments against it were based on a “new, unwritten, and historically unsupported abortion right.” in the state constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represents abortion clinics, filed a lawsuit Aug. 31 and argued that the ban would “ban the overwhelming majority of abortions in Indiana and, as as such, would have a devastating and irreparable impact on the Complainants. and, most importantly, their patients and customers.

Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana’s chief legal officer, said Friday that plaintiffs now have 15 days to file their response to the state’s stay request. He said he did not expect immediate hearings on the matter.

Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, said in a statement that the organization is “encouraged by the judge’s recognition of the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn babies.” and “hope the lockdown will be brief”.

While such legal disputes play out in the background, Women’s Med will provide abortions while it can, most likely starting next week, said Dr. Katie McHugh, an abortion provider at the clinic.

Patients who walked through the clinic doors on Friday signed state-required consent forms and finalized their second appointment, at which time the abortion will take place. Indiana has an 18-hour waiting period for abortions, while Ohio’s is 24 hours.

A short-staffed Indiana clinic will also continue to send patients from Indiana to Ohio for the procedure until Women’s Med returns to normal numbers. Clinic staff traveled between the two states to keep each clinic afloat when the other was closed, McHugh said.

“The last three months since the Dobbs decision have been so abnormal that we’ve had to, you know, make do with the time and the staff and the resources that we have,” McHugh said. “We are trying to regain our footing.”

Elsewhere in Indiana, Amy Hagstrom Miller — president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health — said the South Bend abortion clinic is trying to “build adequate staff to review patients.”

Jody Madeira, a professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said the judge’s interpretation of the liberty section of the Indiana Constitution is encouraging for advocacy groups. abortion rights, which assert that liberty rights include bodily autonomy.

“It’s quite a different argument than one would expect from a Republican judge, who tends to read the text of the Constitution narrowly,” said Madeira, who expects the Supreme Court of Indiana will ultimately decide the legality of the ban.

There are separate licensing procedures for abortion clinics and hospitals, another burden that offers “legitimate and reasonable justification for terminating” the clinic’s licenses, the judge’s order said.

Whether the state constitution protects the right to abortion is undecided. A state appeals court ruled in 2004 that privacy is a fundamental value under the state constitution that extends to all residents, including women seeking abortions.

But the Indiana Supreme Court later upheld a law requiring an 18-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion, though it did not rule whether the state constitution included the right to privacy or to abortion.

“You may have the right,” Madeira said. “But not the access or the infrastructure.”

This story is by Arleigh Rodgers and Rick Callahan of The Associated Press.

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