U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sounded skeptical at a Tuesday hearing over banning abortions in the state of Indiana, ABC News is reporting.
The federal judge said the new law infringed on the rights of women and invaded their privacy when it helped them decide that they could not go through with an abortion.
“How can it be described as anything but a prohibition on the right to an abortion,” she asked Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher at a hearing that lasted 60 minutes.
Indiana’s new abortion law seeks to ban abortions because of fetal genetic defects, like Down syndrome, or on the basis of gender, race, or ancestry. If this law goes through, Indiana and North Dakota would be the only two states in the U.S. to prevent abortions because of these fetal abnormalities.
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Fisher said the controversial law was a reaction to DNA testing advances that allowed fetuses to be scrutinized for genetic defects. He pointed out that it was crucial for the state to put a parameter in place and prevent discrimination against fetuses penciled down for abortion because of DNA results.
In April, Planned Parenthood in Indiana and Kentucky sued the Hoosier state and are presently seeking an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect July 1, disputing its legality and violation of women privacy rights.
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In the same vein, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has also challenged the new law. Legal director Ken Falk revealed the law was unauthorized under present high court abortion rulings.
“What we are talking about is the right to privacy, the right to make this very personal decision, without interference from the state.”
Falk cautioned that if the law was to take effect, women seeking abortions because of genetic defects would not be able to get one in Indiana, and this could pose a grave risk in the foreseeable future.
Falk argued that Planned Parenthood destroyed aborted fetuses by incineration because the fetuses were not considered as human beings. He said they were destroyed in the same way tissue or an amputated body parts were removed and discarded during surgery. He said it would be out of place to give fetuses priority rather than women under the auspices of the new law.
Indiana’s law requires that aborted fetuses be disposed through cremation and burial, but even the University of Indiana is challenging this move in a lawsuit, arguing that it prevents scientists from using fetal tissue for research and sharing their findings with other institutions of higher learning, which by extension could prove beneficial to the rest of humanity.
Fisher argued that the new abortion law was about “understanding the limits,” illustrating his point with the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, where a woman was supported in her right towards an abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case which revealed that states could regulate abortions on behalf of women, helping out with the undue burden placed on their shoulders. Fisher admitted that “in many respects this case is the first of its kind,” but added that the new law was the right move.
Republican Governor Mike Pence signed off on the move in March after it was endorsed by Indiana’s Republican-dominated state legislature. The governor went ahead with the measure despite objections from female legislators from both the Republic and Democratic parties saying it was an extreme measure.
Pratt said she would rule “very soon” on the Indiana abortion law, before July 1.
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