Case: Planned Parenthood Northwest v. Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana

53C06-2208-PL-001756 | Indiana state trial court

Filed Date: Aug. 31, 2022

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are Planned Parenthood Great Northwest (which covers Indiana, among other states, and is the largest provider of reproductive health services in Indiana), three other plaintiffs operating in Indiana and offering either licensed abortion clinics or other services, and a doctor who provides abortions in the state of Indiana. The plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on August 31, 2022, to challenge Indiana's abortion ban, Senate Enrolled Act 1 (SB 1). SB 1 criminalized all …

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are Planned Parenthood Great Northwest (which covers Indiana, among other states, and is the largest provider of reproductive health services in Indiana), three other plaintiffs operating in Indiana and offering either licensed abortion clinics or other services, and a doctor who provides abortions in the state of Indiana. The plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on August 31, 2022, to challenge Indiana's abortion ban, Senate Enrolled Act 1 (SB 1). SB 1 criminalized all abortion (from conception onwards) except in some cases of rape, incest, or fatal fetal abnormality, or when the pregnant individual faced the risk of death or certain severe health risks. Even during one of those exceptions, SB 1 required that abortions be performed at hospitals or ambulatory surgery centers, a majority of which are owned by hospitals, rather than at licensed abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood. Prior to SB 1, abortion in multiple settings was legal in Indiana up until 22 weeks, and 98.4% of abortions did not occur in hospitals. This Indiana ban was the first to make it to the books following the United States Supreme Court's June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health.

Planned Parenthood filed this action in Monroe Circuit Court 6, Monroe County, and named the members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana as well as various Indiana prosecutors charged with enforcing SB 1 as the defendants. Planned Parenthood argued that SB 1 violated the Indiana Constitution by (1) denying its guarantee of liberty and privacy, which includes abortion, (2) violating the Equal Protection Clause by discriminating against abortion providers, and (3) failing to provide due course of law since it is too vague and contradictory regarding gestational age limits. However, Planned Parenthood subsequently withdrew this third claim on September 16, 2022. A related case in Marion Superior Court, Anonymous Plaintiffs 1-5 v. Individual Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indianachallenged SB 1 on religious grounds.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs requested a preliminary injunction, and on September 12, 2022, the plaintiffs also requested a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Judge Kelsey B. Hanlon, was assigned to the case. On September 15, Judge Hanlon declined to issue the TRO because preliminary injunction arguments were scheduled on September 19. On September 22, Judge Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction. Judge Hanlon agreed with most of Planned Parenthood's factual allegations, including that restricting abortions to hospitals only imposed a "significant burden" upon obtaining care. The Court also found that the plaintiffs were likely to later prevail on the merits based on their state constitution liberty claim, which encompassed more rights than the federal constitution, even though she thought their Equal Protection claim would fail, since there was a conceivable reason the plaintiff abortion providers were different from hospital settings. Additionally, the Court concluded that the plaintiffs would be irreparably harmed absent the preliminary injunction, the harm to the plaintiffs outweighed the harm to the defendants, and that a lack of injunction would disservice the public interest.

Indiana appealed the preliminary injunction and requested a stay in the Indiana Court of Appeals the next day, September 23, 2022. Indiana also filed an emergency petition requesting that the case be transferred to the state supreme court. On September 26, Indiana requested that the case be expedited on September 26, but the Court of Appeals denied the expedition the following day. The Indiana Supreme Court accepted the case transfer the following month, 195 N.E.3d 384, which terminated the Court of Appeals docket. On October 25, after both parties had mutually agreed to stay the trial court litigation because of the transfer, Judge Hanlon confirmed the stay. 

On June 30, 2023, the Indiana Supreme Court vacated the preliminary injunction because SB 1 could be enforced consistently with the state constitution. 211 N.E.3d 957. The Court noted that the state’s authority under Article I, Section 1 to protect the public’s health, welfare, and safety did not protect a fundamental right to abortion in all circumstances. In particular, the Court concluded that the state legislature could prohibit abortions in situations where they were unnecessary to protect a patient’s life or protect them from a serious health risk. Because SB 1 could be enforced as a proper exercise of state police power in these circumstances, the Court held that the plaintiffs could not show a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of their facial challenge to SB 1. Notably, the Court declined to reach a conclusion as to whether the law could be applied consistently with the state constitution in every conceivable set of circumstances, leaving open the possibility of other challenges to SB 1 in the future. The Indiana Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing on August 21, 2023. SB 1 went into effect the same day.

In November 2023, three months after SB 1 took effect, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiffs brought two new claims: (1) the health or life exception to the abortion ban violated the state constitution as applied and chilled physicians from providing abortions necessary to protect their parents' lives and health because of its unclear scope, and (2) the hospital requirement violated the state constitution as applied because it was arbitrary and restrictive.

This case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Sophia Bucci (12/30/2022)

Brillian Bao (11/18/2023)

Related Cases

Anonymous Plaintiffs 1-5 v. Individual Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, Indiana state trial court (2022)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

22A-PL-2260

Indiana Court of Appeals Docket 22A-PL-02260

Indiana state appellate court

Oct. 17, 2022

Oct. 17, 2022

Docket

22S-PL-00338

Indiana Supreme Court Docket 22S-PL-00338

Indiana state supreme court

Sept. 12, 2023

Sept. 12, 2023

Docket

53C06-2208-PL-001756

Trial Court Docket 53C06-2208-PL-001756

Nov. 14, 2023

Nov. 14, 2023

Docket

53C06-2208-PL-001756

Complaint

Aug. 31, 2022

Aug. 31, 2022

Complaint

53C06-2208-PL-001756

Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Sept. 22, 2022

Sept. 22, 2022

Order/Opinion

22S-PL-00338

Opinion

Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana v. Planned Parenthood Great Northwest

Indiana state supreme court

June 30, 2023

June 30, 2023

Order/Opinion

211 N.E.3d 211

53C06-2208-PL-001756

Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest v. Members of the Medica Licensing Board of Indiana

Nov. 9, 2023

Nov. 9, 2023

Complaint

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 2:32 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Indiana

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 31, 2022

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Planned Parenthood operating in Indiana, related abortion and reproductive health care providers, and a doctor

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Indiana, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Facility Type(s):

Non-government non-profit

Non-government for-profit

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Order Duration: 2022 - 2023

Issues

General/Misc.:

Counseling

Discrimination Area:

Disparate Impact

Affected Sex/Gender(s):

Female

Medical/Mental Health Care:

Medical care, general

Reproductive rights:

Abortion

Complete abortion ban

Contraception

Criminalization

Facility requirements

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)

Undue Burden