Appeals court reverses earlier ruling and allows Indiana to continue enforcing abortion restrictions

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The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has overruled a district court judge and will allow Indiana to move forward with enforcing five abortion restrictions even while the constitutionality of those restrictions continue to go through appellate review.

Quick Facts

U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker had ruled that the state could not enforce its five abortion restrictions because she believed them to be unconstitutional. All of the restrictions were passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor.

However, a panel with the Seventh Circuit voted 2-1 that the laws can go forward. This is the second ruling in a month in which state abortion restrictions were allowed to go into effect. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court refused to hear an emergency injunction for a Texas “heartbeat law,” allowing the legislation to be implemented.

Citing past U.S. Supreme Court cases, the majority for the Seventh Circuit wrote, “All we hold today is that existing precedents provide strong grounds for concluding that Indiana is likely to prevail on the contested issues….All of the contested provisions have been in force for years, so a stay would preserve the status quo pending appellate resolution. And Indiana has made the ‘strong showing’ on the merits necessary to receive a stay.”

Judge Diane Wood, the lone dissenter, wrote that the “benefits of Indiana’s law are illusory, while its burdens are very tangible,” adding that the restrictions, “impose an undue burden on the set of women for whom the law makes a difference — Indiana women of limited means who cannot leave their jobs, pay for extensive travel, obtain access to cars, and potentially go out of state, simply to obtain a lawful abortion.”

The five abortion restrictions that have been restored are as follows:

In a statement, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita reacted to the reversal by saying, “We would expect our commonsense laws to be upheld as the appeal continues,” and added that the ruling “should encourage all Hoosiers who support Indiana’s commonsense laws aimed at protecting the lives of unborn children and the health of mothers.”

The weight of this decision is not in the effectiveness of the restrictions, which mainstream media outlets are portraying as harsh. These abortion restrictions are rather inconsequential as they do not ban abortion at any point during the pregnancy, but simply slow down the process.

The significance of this case is that the appeals court allowed Indiana to continue enforcing its laws, laws put into place by the duly elected representatives of everyday Hoosiers. Far too often the will of the people on abortion has been thwarted by judges who simply impose an injunction and tell millions of people that they have no right to make laws to protect life in their state.

Judges should only block laws if they are clearly unconstitutional, and there is nothing unconstitutional about limiting abortion in a state. Some will argue that Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey make abortion an absolute right. Hopefully, those faulty decisions will be rectified when the Supreme Court hears the case regarding Mississippi’s ban on abortion beyond 15 weeks’ gestation, but even while those cases stand, there is no absolute right to an abortion for any reason at any point in a pregnancy within the Constitution.

The American left is drunk on abortion, even vastly outpacing the usually more progressive European nations that they see as a model. A 15-week abortion ban in Europe would actually be considered radical, as most Western nations prohibit abortions after the first trimester unless the woman’s health or life is at stake.

It is time that the courts assert the constitutional right of states to govern themselves and to make laws which are intended to protect life despite the caricatures created by the abortion lobby.