Life Begins At Conception
Special Report - June 30, 2011
On June 24, a federal judge in Indiana issued a ruling that upheld a key provision of the state’s informed consent for abortion law, which requires that women be informed that the life of their unborn child begins at conception.
The lawsuit, which was brought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN), was filed after the recent passage of House Enrolled Act (HEA) 2010, a law that strengthened Indiana’s informed consent for abortion law. HEA 2010 also included an additional provision, which prohibited Indiana state agencies from giving contracts or grants to any organization that performs abortions, effectively defunding those entities from any state appropriations.
In the ruling, District Court Judge Tanya Pratt upheld the law’s requirement of informing women that “human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm,” ruling that the language was “only a biological fact relating to the development of the living organism; therefore may be reasonably read to provide accurate, non-misleading information to the patient.” Judge Pratt cited the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that “requiring that women be informed of the availability of information relating to fetal development is a reasonable measure to ensure an informed choice.”
Steven Aden, Senior Legal Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), praised the ruling, saying, “No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless. Abortionists have done this by telling women that a pre-born baby is just a batch of cells instead of what he or she actually is: a human being. This law ends that deception in Indiana. All the court did was recognize the indisputable fact that a biological human life begins at conception. It is false to say anything else.”
On a different issue, Judge Pratt enjoined a separate new provision for practitioners that required communicating information on fetal pain at or before 20 weeks of postfertilization age, saying sufficient evidence had been provided “demonstrating that requiring PPIN Practitioners to state that “objective scientific information shows that a fetus can feel pain at or before twenty week of postfertilization age” may be false, misleading, and irrelevant.”
The defunding provision of the law went into effect on May 10, 2011, when Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed HEA 2010 into law. Planned Parenthood immediately filed a previous Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which would have prevented the defunding provision from taking effect, but the court rejected the motion the very next day.
However, in the decision last week, Judge Pratt ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood concerning funding, issuing a preliminary injunction with respect to the defunding provision of HEA 2010, which will keep the provision from taking effect until it can gain full judicial consideration. Holding that “the balance of harms” tilted in favor of Planned Parenthood and citing the federal government’s threat of “partial or total withholding of federal Medicaid dollars” to the state, Judge Pratt concluded that “the Court believes the most prudent course of action is to enjoin the defunding provision while the judicial process runs its course.”
The Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has already filed a notice of its intentions to appeal Judge Pratt’s preliminary injunction.
North Carolina is one of four states, along with Indiana, Kansas, and Wisconsin to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. See our previous story for details on North Carolina’s budget. North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed HB 854Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know, an informed consent measure passed by large majorities in the State House and Senate. The General Assembly is expected to take up a veto override vote on HB 854 when they return in mid-July.
Legislature Muters Historic Veto Override - June 16, 2011
Governor Vetoes Informed Consent - June 28, 2011
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