State appeals decision enjoining Indiana’s 2017 parental involvement law

By Dave Andrusko

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill

Last month NRL News Today reported that a divided three-judge panel of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker against Indiana’s Senate Bill 404.

SB 404 is a 2017 law designed to give parents more rights if their minor daughter seeks an abortion. The panel concluded such a requirement constituted an “undue burden” on the abortion rights of unemancipated minors.

We anticipated that Indiana AG Curtis Hill would appeal, and Tuesday he did just that. He asks that the entire 11-member appeals court rehear the case.

According to the Catholic News Agency,

Indiana law requires any Indiana minor seeking an abortion to provide the courts with written consent from a parent. The state allows a minor to petition a court for approval to have an abortion without parental consent, but a 2017 law also allows judges to notify parents that their daughters are seeking to have an abortion without consent. In 2017, a federal judge [Judge Parker] issued a preliminary injunction that prevents judges from notifying parents when minors seek abortions.

“This case involves the fundamental question of whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits Indiana from requiring an unemancipated minor to notify her parents of an impending abortion,” Attorney General Hill said in his 21 page brief,” quoting from Judge Michael Stephen Kanne’s dissent.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker

Opponents of SB 404 seek to extend Bellotti v. Baird, the 1979 Supreme Court decision which struck down a Massachusetts law requiring a minor to obtain the consent of both parents before obtaining an abortion. But Hill countered

Ultimately, this Court should settle the issue by ruling that Bellotti is inapplicable to parental notice laws. Extending Bellotti is inappropriate in light of the governmental interests served by parental notice laws, which are far broader than the interests served by parental consent laws. Crucially, even after the abortion, parents still have rights and responsibilities in the care and upbringing of their child. Ignorance of such a profound event in their young daughter’s life is a barrier to exercising those rights and carrying out that responsibility. …

As they love and care for their daughter, parents need to know what she has been through. An abortion is a facet of medical history that could have implications for future treatment. It is an event that could bear on a child’s emotional needs and mental health.