New precedent or new ultrasound machine?
Life | Planned Parenthood agrees to comply with law for reasons pro-life advocates say are obvious
by Leah Hickman
Posted 8/24/20, 03:55 pm
Planned Parenthood dropped its lawsuit last week against an Indiana law requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound at least 18 hours before ending the life of their unborn child. The abortion giant said it abandoned the lawsuit because, according to court documents, its new facility in Fort Wayne recently obtained an ultrasound machine, enabling it to comply.
“To be clear, the 18-hour ultrasound requirement has nothing to do with patient safety and is only meant to add another barrier in accessing abortion care,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. “But at this time, we are fortunately able to maintain the same level of access to patient care and comply with this medically unnecessary law as of January 2021.”
Mike Fichter, president of Indiana Right to Life, said he believes Planned Parenthood had another reason for changing its mind.
“Planned Parenthood is dropping this suit because it fears it won’t win now that the new standard of June Medical Services is being applied by the courts,” he said about U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in its June Medical Services vs. Russo decision in June. “This move is to cut legal costs in what it knows will be a losing battle. The courts have clearly abandoned the Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt framework from 2016, and that’s great news for pro-life laws moving forward.”
In the June Medical Services case, Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote against a Louisiana law that would have required abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges, and his opinion changed the standard for courts deciding the constitutionality of a pro-life law. Rather than weighing a law’s benefits and burdens, as the previous precedent set in the Whole Woman’s Health case did, courts must now determine if a law presents any “significant obstacles” to abortion. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals pointed to the new precedent on Aug. 7 when it lifted a lower court’s injunction against multiple pro-life laws in Arkansas, allowing them to take effect by the end of the month.
Pro-life groups call Planned Parenthood’s dropped lawsuit a victory for women and babies, pointing to evidence that suggests pre-abortion ultrasounds have helped save lives.
“Women deserve the opportunity to see an ultrasound image of their unborn baby at least 18 hours before an abortion in order to have ample opportunity to reconsider an abortion,” Fichter said. His organization noted that Indiana saw 496 fewer abortions from July to December 2016, when the law first took effect, than during the same period the following year, after the courts had blocked the law.
Read more Vitals Sign up for the Vitals email