INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to block a new Indiana law that tightens abortion pill regulations, arguing it wrongly targets the organization’s clinic in Lafayette.
The Lafayette clinic is the only site in Indiana that provides the abortion pill but not surgical abortions. Under the law, it is required to meet surgery center standards, such as having separate procedure and recovery rooms and wider doorways and halls by Jan. 1.
The lawsuit claims the law violates U.S. constitutional rights of equal protection because it requires the clinic to meet the same standards as surgical abortion clinics but doesn’t apply those rules to offices of doctors who distribute the abortion pill.
The Republican-dominated Legislature approved the changes in April and they were signed into law by GOP Gov. Mike Pence. Supporters said the law is aimed at ensuring the abortion pill is given under proper medical care.
Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said she believed the law was meant to restrict women’s access to the abortion pill. Women take the pill at the office, then leave and let the drugs take effect.
“The additional restrictions in this new law are in no way related to patient safety,” Cockrum said. “This law is clearly part of a coordinated national effort to end access to safe, legal abortion by trying to shut down Planned Parenthood health care centers.”
State Attorney General Greg Zoeller said his office would defend the new law in court.
Other provisions of Indiana’s law prohibit the abortion pill from being given to a woman who is more than nine weeks pregnant unless federal regulations approve use after that. It also requires clinics to provide information on the dangers of abortion-causing drugs and offer women the option of viewing an ultrasound or hearing the fetal heartbeat.
Planned Parenthood, which is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, isn’t challenging those sections, which took effect last month.
Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said he thinks the state was within its rights to enact the new clinic restrictions.
“If Planned Parenthood truly cared about women’s health, they would desire all abortion facilities, even facilities they do not operate, to meet a basic standard,” Fichter said.
Most states already have the same clinic regulations for those providing medical or surgical abortions. Indiana is among six states with regulations only for surgical abortion sites, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group that does research on reproductive health.
Nine surgical abortion clinics are currently licensed in Indiana, including three run by Planned Parenthood, according to state records.