Lawsuit filed to block Indiana abortion ban as South Carolina lawmakers approve near-total ban

Lawmakers and abortion rights groups are at odds in both states.

August 31, 2022, 4:28 PM

As states continue to regulate abortion rights across the country, abortion rights groups and state legislatures in Indiana and South Carolina are at odds amid fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Indiana abortion providers filed a lawsuit in Monroe County Circuit Court on Tuesday seeking to put an end to the state's abortion ban before it goes into effect on Sept. 15. The South Carolina State House approved a near-total ban on abortion on Wednesday after the state's Supreme Court temporarily blocked a 6-week ban earlier this month, while the court case moves forward. The House bill now heads to the state Senate for approval.

In a lawsuit, Indiana abortion providers claim the state's ban, signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb on Aug. 5, violates the "fundamental" rights of abortion providers and patients protected under the Indiana Constitution. Indiana was the first state to pass a ban since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe.

PHOTO: South Carolina House members pass a near-total ban on abortion after hours of debate at the state legislature in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 30, 2022.
South Carolina House members pass a near-total ban on abortion after hours of debate at the state legislature in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 30, 2022.
Sam Wolfe/Reuters

The suit alleges the law infringes on residents' right to privacy, violating Indiana's guarantee of equal privileges and immunities and violate the Constitution's due course of law clause because of its unconstitutionally vague language.

The Indiana lawsuit filed against members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana and county prosecutors, was filed by Planned Parenthood, the Lawyering Project, the ACLU of Indiana and WilmerHale on behalf of abortion providers including Planned Parenthood, Women's Med Group Professional Corp and All-Options.

"The abortion ban that the legislature rushed through during a special session — nearly immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — is both dangerous and incredibly cruel," Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

Indiana's abortion ban, Senate Bill 1, is a near-total ban on abortion, making it a level 5 felony to provide abortion services, only allowing three exceptions, according to the lawsuit. Providers who violate the ban will have their license revoked and could face between one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Under the law, abortions up to certain stages in pregnancy are permitted if the pregnant woman's life is in danger, the fetus is diagnosed with a fatal anomaly or if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the ban will "severely limit access to abortion care, prohibiting nearly all pregnant [residents] from accessing care in Indiana."

PHOTO: In this Aug. 5, 2022, file photo, abortion rights activists react after the Indiana Senate votes to ban abortion, inside the Indiana State house during a special session in Indianapolis.
In this Aug. 5, 2022, file photo, abortion rights activists react after the Indiana Senate votes to ban abortion, inside the Indiana State house during a special session in Indianapolis.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, FILE

If the law goes into effect, "thousands" of Indiana residents who seek abortion care each year will have to disrupt their lives to travel out of state for care, "significantly delaying their abortions and causing them to incur higher expenses," the lawsuit alleges.

The ban also eliminates abortion clinics in the state, further restricting access, the lawsuit says.

"By slashing the number of facilities providing abortion, which will be limited to hospitals concentrated in and around Indianapolis, S.B. 1 will materially burden even the few people who may qualify for the ban's extremely limited exceptions," the lawsuit alleges.

The cost of an abortion procedure increases as the pregnancy advances, so patients pay more for care when they have to wait, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also warns that patients unable to travel will "resort to self-managing their abortion outside of the medical system" or be forced to continue a pregnancy against their will.

The state's medical licensing board and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

PHOTO: Protesters gather inside the South Carolina House as members debate a new near-total ban on abortion with no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest at the state legislature in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 30, 2022.
Protesters gather inside the South Carolina House as members debate a new near-total ban on abortion with no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest at the state legislature in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 30, 2022.
Sam Wolfe/Reuters

The South Carolina State House on Wednesday, meanwhile, approved a near-total ban on abortion which only provides exceptions for pregnancies that are a result of rape and incest. If the bill is approved by the State Senate, it would head to the governor's desk for approval.

In a statement to ABC News, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's office said he will "carefully consider any legislation that ultimately reaches his desk, but he believes this is a good starting point for the Senate to begin its deliberations."

In February 2021, the Republican governor signed a package of bills into law that ban abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected. The ban took effect June 27 -- after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The law was temporarily blocked by the South Carolina Supreme Court while justices review a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood in July that alleges the ban is an invasion of privacy and violation of equal protection under the state constitution.

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