7th Circuit holds off a decision on Indiana’s pro-life law until Supreme Court rules on Mississippi Gestational Age Act

By Dave Andrusko

Listening to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal on Wednesday, what appeared obvious turned out to be so. “Several Indiana abortion restrictions will remain in place, as the Seventh Circuit said Thursday it would delay ruling on a provider’s challenge until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on abortion rights,” according to Mary Anne Pazanowski of Bloomberg Law.     

The reference was to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi Gestational Age Act which protects babies from abortion after 15 weeks. The Supreme Court heard the case on December 1 and a decision is expected in June.

“The underlying lawsuit [Whole Woman’s Health ]was filed by abortion providers back in June of 2018 and challenged 25 separate sections of Indiana’s statutory rules on abortions, claiming they served as unconstitutional restrictions on a woman’s right to have an abortion,” David Wells reported.

In August 2021, Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a 158-page ruling where she allowed some of the provisions to go forward, such as a law limiting the performance of first-trimester aspiration abortions to physicians. “But she denied the state’s request to stay her injunction against five laws,” Olivia Covington  of The Indiana Lawyer explained. These included

  • The physician-only law for medication abortions.
  • The second-trimester hospitalization requirement.
  • An in-person counseling requirement for all preabortion counseling.
  • A telemedicine ban prohibiting health care providers from using telemedicine to prescribe an abortion-inducing drug.
  • An in-person examination requirement, requiring physicians to “examine a pregnant woman in person” before providing a medication abortion.

However, as NRL News Today reported, in September “the 7th Circuit imposed the stay on Judge Barker’s in junction” (prompting Judge Diane Wood to issue a blistering dissent) “until the court issued a final ruling, finding that the state was likely to succeed in its appeal,” according to Wells. “The stay order allowed the challenged provisions to be enforced.”

“Acknowledging the court’s concern about issuing a ruling before Dobbs, [Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M.] Fisher said the state was primarily asking the 7th Circuit to keep the stay in place and to address the state’s informed-consent laws, including mandatory disclosures about fetal pain and ‘human physical life.’ The informed consent laws, Fisher said, likely would not be affected by any ruling in Dobbs,” according to Covington.