ACLU files suit over new Indiana clinic regulations

Suit: Lafayette clinic singled out

INDIANAPOLIS - A lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Planned Parenthood says new state legislation that restricts abortion is unconstitutional.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said a new law passed in the 2013 legislative session singles out one health care center in Lafayette, Ind., and violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit names the Indiana State Department of Health and the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor as defendants in the case.

The law -- Senate Enrolled Act 371 -- redefined "abortion clinic" to include health centers that provide only drug-induced abortions.

Lawmakers also changed state law to require clinics to meet the same physical requirements as clinics that provide surgical abortions, meaning the Lafayette center will be required to have separate rooms for surgical procedures, surgery recovery and scrub rooms.

The ACLU's suit says the law only affects the Lafayette center and does not apply to private physicians' offices providing the same procedures.

"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, which also provide Pap tests, breast and testicular exams, birth control and STD testing and treatment," said Betty Cockrum, CEO of PPINK. "We have been providing health care for more than 40 years in Lafayette, and we will continue to do so."

Mike Fichter, the president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, said the lawsuit did not come as a surprise, and he feels confident that the law will stand up to judicial scrutiny.

"The state is well within its bounds on Senate Enrolled Act 371," Fichter said in a news release Thursday. "If Planned Parenthood's lawsuit advances to any court, we believe any judge will recognize the authority of the state to put this law into effect."

Senator Travis Holdman presented the bill last February on the final day of the session.

"I believe that Senate Enrolled Act 371 was fair and in our state's best interest. Beyond that, I will not comment on pending litigation," Holdman said.

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