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Justice John Roberts Issues Ruling On Indiana Parental Notification For Abortion Law

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has weighed in on an Indiana law that requires parents to be notified before their minor child can get an abortion.

On Monday, Roberts ruled that the state could enforce its statute, which was passed in 2017, after lower federal courts blocked its enforcement, according to NBC News.

Previously, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals noted that it was waiting for a formal notice from the nation’s highest court regarding its June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. NBC News said that such notice is likely to come around July 25, with the appeals court noting that any action on the issue would have to come afterward.

But Indiana officials last week requested that the Supreme Court issue an immediate order allowing the state to enforce its statute because its interests were harmed by the lower court’s injunction.

“Delay would only serve to prevent enforcement of a duly enacted state statute designed to protect minors, families, and the unborn,” Indiana attorneys said in a court filing, NBC News reported.

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Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita hailed the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe in a statement last month.

“Following the landmark Dobbs decision, we eagerly anticipate clearer paths for Indiana’s commonsense laws protecting unborn children and their mothers,” he said. “We are grateful for the new day that has dawned, and we will remain steadfast in our fight for life.”

“This issue — part of Kristina Box, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Health, et al., v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. — now has been remanded back to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” a press release from his office added.

“Attorney General Rokita and his team already have sought relief from the injunction directly from the U.S. district court, which has expedited briefing at our request,” said the release.

Courts in a number of other states have blocked so-called “trigger” laws and other statutes that took effect immediately after the Supreme Court’s Roe decision.

In Utah, for instance, 3rd District Court Judge Andrew Stone granted Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah’s request for an injunction against the law after an emergency hearing, Fox 13 reported.

“The immediate effects that will occur outweigh any policy interest of the state in stopping abortions immediately,” he said. “Doctors here are threatened with felonies. Affected women are deprived of safe, local medical treatments to terminate pregnancies.”

Stone noted that his injunction, issued in late June, was only temporary, lasting just 14 days.

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Regarding Utah’s ban, the

Salt Lake Tribune reported:

The law bans abortions in the Beehive State, except in these limited circumstances:

  • If it “is necessary to avert the death” or if there is “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” of the pregnant woman.
  • “Two physicians who practice maternal fetal medicine concur … that the fetus has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal,” or “has a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable.” According to the law, this does not include Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy or any condition “that does not cause an individual to live in a mentally vegetative state.”
  • The pregnancy was caused by a rape or incest. Before performing an abortion, the physician will have to verify the rape or incest has been reported to law enforcement or the proper authorities.

“The Supreme Court ruling was devastating and terrifying for our patients and providers, but at least for now, Utahns will be able to get the care they need,” said Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, according to the Tribune. “Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight. Planned Parenthood will always stand alongside our patients and providers — no matter what.”

Judges in Louisiana, Florida, and West Virginia have also blocked those states’ abortion bans and limitations from taking immediate effect.

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