Abortion providers seek to broaden access to the procedure in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Abortion providers and a pregnancy resource center sought a preliminary injunction Thursday to broaden the scope of a health or life exception to Indiana’s near-total abortion ban and to expand the sites where the procedures can be performed.

The ban outlaws abortion even in cases presenting a serious health risk and threatens providers with criminal and licensing penalties for providing care in such circumstances, the plaintiffs argued in an amended complaint filed in Monroe County, south of Indianapolis.

The plaintiffs seek to expand the medical exception to the law and block its requirement that any abortions that do occur be provided at a hospital. That requirement makes abortion even more inaccessible because only a few hospitals, concentrated in the Indianapolis area, provide abortions and typically do so at higher costs than at abortion clinics, the plaintiffs argue.

The plaintiffs include the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky; another past abortion provider, Women’s Med; and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

The plaintiffs said in a statement “the fight isn’t over in Indiana. Today, we are asking the trial court to protect Hoosiers’ health and limit the scope of the state’s unconstitutional abortion ban.”

An email message seeking comment was sent to the Indiana Attorney General's Office, which defends Indiana laws in legal matters.

The health and life exception to Indiana’s abortion law states that an abortion can be provided if “a condition exists that has complicated the mother’s medical condition and necessitates an abortion to prevent death or a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

Indiana's ban went into effect in August following the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling vacating a previously issued preliminary injunction and holding that the Indiana Constitution includes a right to an abortion that is necessary to protect a patient from a serious health risk.

Indiana’s Republican-backed ban ended most abortions in the state, even in the earliest stages of a pregnancy. Indiana became the first state to enact tighter abortion restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court ended nearly a half-century of federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

Indiana’s six abortion clinics stopped providing abortions ahead of the ban officially taking effect.