July 8, 2016

Judge grants injunction in enforcing new abortion law; Planned Parenthood facility in Terre Haute closes

Erin Pfister, Celine Mitchell, Claire Pfister and Cortney Pfister, all members of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute, stand in front of the Planned Parenthood referral center in Terre Haute on Jan. 22, 2015, for the solemn observance of the Roe v. Wade decision. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc., announced on June 30 that the referral facility will close on July 20. (Submitted photo by Tom McBroom)

Erin Pfister, Celine Mitchell, Claire Pfister and Cortney Pfister, all members of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute, stand in front of the Planned Parenthood referral center in Terre Haute on Jan. 22, 2015, for the solemn observance of the Roe v. Wade decision. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc., announced on June 30 that the referral facility will close on July 20. (Submitted photo by Tom McBroom)

By Natalie Hoefer

On June 30, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted a preliminary injunction on an Indiana law that would have gone into effect on July 1 making it illegal for women in Indiana to have an abortion due solely to discrimination based on the race, gender or disability of a fetus.

The request for the injunction was filed by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc. (PPINK) in response to House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1337, which Gov. Mike Pence signed into law on March 24 with plans for enactment on July 1.

According to the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana’s document on the outcome, Judge Pratt ruled in PPINK’s favor to place a preliminary injunction on the law while the organization pursues litigation challenging the constitutionality of three provisions of HEA 1337: forbidding abortion based solely on a fetus’ sex, race or disability; requiring abortion providers to inform clients of this law; and requiring the remains of an aborted fetus to be buried or cremated.

In the document, Judge Pratt states that the stay was granted because “PPINK is likely to succeed on the merits of its challenge to the anti-discrimination provisions because they directly contravene the principal established in Roe v. Wade … that a state may not prohibit a woman from making the ultimate decision to have an abortion prior to fetal viability.

“Similarly, the information dissemination provision is likely unconstitutional as it requires abortion providers to convey almost certainly false information to their patients.”

The stay on the law’s requirement for the respectful disposal of fetal remains was deemed “a much closer call,” according to the statement, but was granted because “the Court concludes that the State’s asserted interest in treating fetal remains with the dignity of human remains is not legitimate given that the law does not recognize the fetus as a human person.”

Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, who serves as the legislative and public policy spokesperson for the Church in Indiana, says he “wasn’t completely surprised by the outcome … given the Supreme Court [ruling on abortion] and how it’s interpreted today.”

While he does consider the ruling an “unfortunate result,” Tebbe is still “pleased to know that other parts of the bill are still viable and applicable, so they’ll be able to be enforced.”

Those parts include requiring abortion providers to give information on perinatal hospice care; a ban on group counseling before an abortion in favor of one-on-one counseling; a clarification on when the state-mandated ultrasound must take place; an update on Indiana’s admitting privileges law; and an update to the “Termination of Pregnancy” form.

Indiana Right to Life president and CEO Mike Fichter agrees with Tebbe, according to a statement posted on the organization’s website, www.irtl.org.

“Perinatal hospice gives parents a compassionate option when faced with an adverse prenatal diagnosis,” says Fichter. “We also are pleased that the Dignity for the Unborn law will provide women seeking abortions with medical privacy that sadly the abortion industry does not automatically give to women.

“We urge the state of Indiana to fight for all of the Dignity for the Unborn law to go into effect … .”

Marc Tuttle, president of Right to Life of Indianapolis, is frustrated with the decision.

“Once again, an activist judge has decided that her agenda is more important than the people’s concern for the lives of the unborn, especially those most vulnerable with disabilities or who are not wanted because of race or gender,” he says.

In more positive news on the pro-life front in Indiana, PPINK announced on June 30 that it will close its referral center in Terre Haute.

According to an interview with the Terre Haute Tribune Star, PPINK’s president and CEO Betty Cockrum stated that the facility had been operating in the red. She noted a 62 percent decline in the facility’s activity over the last 10 years.

Tom McBroom, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute and coordinator of the Helper of God’s Precious Infants, wrote in an e-mail to The Criterion that the “small but strong” pro-life group “has conducted a prayer vigil [at the Planned Parenthood referral center] on the first Saturday of the month for over seven years.

“We knew that the Terre Haute Planned Parenthood referral office would eventually close, but are taken by surprise it will happen in July. …

McBroom notes that the members of the pro-life group “actually established a good relationship with the Terre Haute Planned Parenthood staff.

“We also had a few mothers thank us because their daughter was going into Planned Parenthood to seek an abortion, only to see us standing in front and this would change the daughter’s mind.”

McBroom states that the group plans to move its prayer vigil to the Bloomington Planned Parenthood abortion facility after August.

Father Rick Ginther, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Margaret Mary parishes in Terre Haute at the time of the announcement and currently pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis, is grateful for the closing of the abortion referral center.

“With the closing of this facility, the gift of life is safer in the Wabash Valley,” he says. “Many folks have spent countless hours in prayer and vigil that one day this facility would close. I admire their perseverance and their faith, and am grateful to God for this closing.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!