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In 'Victory for Women,' Appeals Court Upholds Ban on Pence's Indiana Law Requiring Ultrasounds Before Abortions

"This is another repudiation of the unnecessary and unconstitutional attempts by Indiana politicians to interfere with women's reproductive rights."

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Reproductive rights advocates in Indiana protested then-Gov. Mike Pence's anti-choice legislation in April of 2016. (Photo: @MaureenHayden/Twitter)

Reproductive rights groups celebrated "a victory for women" after a federal appeals court upheld a ban on a provision in an Indiana law—signed by former governor and current Vice President Mike Pence—that forced any woman considering an abortion to undergo an ultrasound 18 hours before the procedure.

A three-member panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday determined that the mandated waiting period in House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1337 imposes an unconstitutional "undue burden" on women, and upheld U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's March 2017 injunction in a 51-page ruling (pdf).

"Rhetoric and persuasion are certainly legitimate methods for a state to assert its preference, but it cannot force compliance with its otherwise legitimate views by erecting barriers to abortion without evidence that those barriers serve the benefit the state intended," wrote Judge Ilana Rovner. "It appears that [the measure's] only effect is to place barriers between a woman who wishes to exercise her right to an abortion and her ability to do so."

"HEA 1337 would require Hoosiers to make two trips to their provider—a time-consuming and expensive process. We are glad the court saw that there is no medical or legal justification for these rules, which would be especially burdensome for rural residents and people with low incomes," responded Christie Gillespie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK)—which brought the case challenging the law, with assistance from the ACLU of Indiana.

"The ruling affirms that deeply personal decisions about abortion should be made by women in consultation with their doctors, not politicians pursuing an extreme ideological agenda," declared ACLU of Indiana executive director Jane Henegar.

Ken Falk, the group's legal director, added, "This is another repudiation of the unnecessary and unconstitutional attempts by Indiana politicians to interfere with women's reproductive rights."

As Brandon J. Smith, the statehouse bureau chief for Indiana Public Broadcasting, noted in a series of tweets, this is just the latest blow to efforts by Indiana's right-wing lawmakers to restrict a woman's right to choose.

Reproductive rights advocates have warned that such efforts are part of a broader ploy by the anti-choice movement to force the U.S. Supreme Court—which could soon have another far-right, Trump-appointed justice—to reconsider its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling and outlaw all abortions nationwide.

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