By Natalie Hoefer
INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) — Indiana’s new law banning most abortions finally went into effect Aug. 21, almost a year after the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, Planned Parenthood and other plaintiffs filed a suit Aug. 30, 2022, charging that Indiana’s new law violated the state’s constitution.
The Indiana Supreme Court Aug. 21 denied a July 31 request by the plaintiffs to rehear their case. The court had ruled June 30 that the law protecting the lives of most unborn children was not in violation of the state’s constitution.
Under the law now officially in effect, an abortion is allowed up to 10 weeks gestation only in instances of rape or incest and up to 20 weeks gestation only in cases of lethal fetal anomalies, or when the mother’s life is in danger from specific medical issues.
The law also requires that abortions take place at a hospital or a hospital-owned surgery center, effectively closing abortion centers in the state.
“This is truly an historic day,” said Indiana Right to Life president and CEO Mike Fichter in a video statement released Aug. 21. “We are so thankful to the thousands upon thousands of Hoosiers who worked so hard for over 50 years to bring this day about.”
In an interview with The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese, Right to Life Indianapolis president Marc Tuttle noted that “under the new protections in Indiana law, it’s estimated that 9,000 fewer babies will be aborted per year. We all have to rejoice at 9,000 precious lives being spared.”
Brie Anne Varick, director of the archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity, shares Tuttle’s sentiments.
“We have waited for SEA 1 to finally take effect, and I rejoice that the prayers of the faithful have been answered and abortion clinics in Indiana will finally be closed,” she told The Criterion. “SEA 1″ is shorthand for the law, known as Senate Enrolled Act 1.
Varick also noted that “with any victory in a war, there is joy that the battle has been won, but there is also grief as we acknowledge all the loss.”
“There is great work left to do as we, through the grace of God, continue to heal, transform and unify the hearts of our community and our nation,” she added.
Indiana was the first state to call a special session of the General Assembly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022, decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization returned power to the states in regulating abortion.
SEA 1 was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb Aug. 6, 2022. It was in effect Sept. 15-22 that year, but a preliminary injunction issued Sept. 22 as result of the ACLU/Planned Parenthood lawsuit placed the law on hold.
After the state Supreme Court’s June 30 decision that the law is not in violation of the state’s constitution, SEA 1 remained on hold for 30 days per state law to allow time for the plaintiffs to request a rehearing. A request was filed July 31, causing the law to remain on hold until the court decided Aug. 21 not to rehear the case.
Another case charging that the law violates religious freedom is making its way through the Indiana court system; those bringing the suit say they are being denied access to abortion permitted by their religion. No preliminary injunction is in place for the case except for the few individuals comprising the plaintiffs.
“The pro-life community stands ready to offer help and assistance to moms in need,” said Tuttle. “Now is the time for Hoosiers to come together to show that we are generous enough to support all moms and babies in our state.”
“We must double our efforts and continue to pray and support those in need of healing from the trauma of abortion,” said Varick. “We must continue to love and walk with moms in need, so they know they are not alone.”
She is hopeful regarding the work ahead.
“As Christian people, we do not despair but live in hope,” said Varick. “What God has started, he will bring to completion.”