On August 10, a federal district court judge knocked down a collection of pro-life laws in the state of Indiana, de-regulating abortion in significant ways. The decision creates a chasm in Indiana’s regulatory framework that will surely lead to more abortions and less respect for human life.
The sweeping injunction, granted by Judge Sarah Evans Barker, blocks the following:
● Physician-only requirement for chemical abortions
● Ban on telemedicine abortions
● The requirement that second trimester abortions must be done in hospitals or ambulatory surgical facilities
● Informed consent on fetal pain
● Informed consent on when physical life begins
● Multiple facility requirements for health and safety
In blocking these policies and leaving several others in place, Judge Barker’s decision creates utter confusion and contradictions in Indiana law.
A day after the permanent injunction was announced, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office filed a motion for stay, pending an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
In his motion, Rokita outlined a major harm resulting from blocking Indiana’s physician-only requirement on chemical abortions:
“The risks from the physician-only injunction are particularly acute in that it leaves in place no enforceable restriction over who may prescribe or dispense mifepristone. And, with FDA’s suspension of its own in-person dispensing rules, the Court’s injunction permitting telehealth appointments permits abortion providers to dispense mifepristone [the first of two drugs used in chemical abortions] through the mail indefinitely, for no other state law restriction requires the woman to pick up the pills at the clinic.”
In other words, this injunction has de-regulated and mis-regulated abortion so thoroughly that mail-order-do-it-yourself abortions may be in Indiana’s future.
Furthermore, in his motion, Attorney General Rokita explained the following scenario that could unfold under the new broken scheme:
“Consider that, under the Court’s injunction, a woman seeking abortion may now obtain an ultrasound from an abortion provider at a location other than a licensed abortion clinic, undergo her informed consent via telephone, and then have her abortion appointment 18 hours later via telehealth from her home with someone who is at his home or office, with the pills then mailed to her from anyone authorized to possess them and directed by the physician to mail them. There is apparently no necessary role in this scheme for an actual licensed abortion clinic.”
Decades ago, before Roe v. Wade eliminated abortion restrictions across the country, a major argument for legalized abortion was to bring the practice out of the dangerous “back alleys” and into the safe, well-regulated practices of physicians.
Today, this debunked argument is still made to justify legal abortion. And yet, in Indiana, a federal judge has eliminated the role of a licensed physician or a licensed facility in the matter.
Contrary to popular belief, chemical abortions—often referred to as medication abortions or the “abortion pill”—are far from simple.
A chemical abortion consists of two drugs: mifepristone and (usually) misoprostol. The first blocks a woman’s progesterone receptors, stopping the natural hormone needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy and thereby starving the unborn baby of what she needs to survive in the womb.
The second drug induces labor, forcing the woman to give birth to her small but intricately developed, dead child. This occurs at home, outside of a clinical setting.
(For women who have taken the first drug, there is hope. For information on abortion pill reversal, go to abortionpillreversal.com or call the 24/7 helpline at 877.558.0333.)
Women who have undergone chemical abortions describe similar experiences of pain, intense bleeding, and outright horror and heartbreak at the sight of their precious children’s bodies.
Sadly, this seems to be the standard experience of a chemical abortion. It doesn’t even begin to cover the situations in which complications arise.
One particularly dangerous complication has to do with the existence of an ectopic pregnancy. An in-person physical exam, in addition to the state-required ultrasound scan, can rule out the existence of a contraindication like this. Otherwise, if an ectopic pregnancy goes undiagnosed, the result of undergoing a chemical abortion could be fatal to the mother.
Yet, despite the physical and mental health risks involved in a chemical abortion, women are essentially expected to go into this experience alone in the state of Indiana. Is this really so much better than the proverbial “back alley”?
Women deserve better than the back alley and they deserve far better than abortion.
So too do the tiny children whose very lives are at stake in this debate. And yet they have once again been eliminated from the conversation. Their very existence—the simple facts of their biological reality—has been written off by one judge in Indiana.
In striking down the informed consent requirement on when human life begins, Barker wrote, “[T]his mandatory disclosure does not communicate truthful and non-misleading information.”
This—of all of Barker’s conclusions—is the most stunning.
Dr. Farr Curlin, a physician and bioethicist, provided expert testimony for the state of Indiana during the trial over the law. Citing biological texts, he confirmed what anyone who has ever taken middle school biology already knows: that there is “100 percent scientific consensus” on the fact that human physical life begins at fertilization.
As simple as it is, this piece of information is crucial in an abortion decision.
“There’s a saying in the field of bioethics that good ethics depends on good facts,” Curlin said. “And any ethical analysis must begin with a careful consideration of what the facts are, including those facts we know scientifically. So any scientific error that’s informing one’s ethical judgment will—could lead to an erroneous ethical judgment.”
With the facts of human life completely discarded, the state of Indiana has indeed arrived at an erroneous ethical judgment. But so long as a stay is granted, the state may be able to delay more harm and prevent it entirely with a successful appeal to the Seventh Circuit.