September 22, 2022

Indiana Enacts Expanded Abortion Prohibition

UPDATE: The new law went into effect on September 15, 2022, but was at least temporarily blocked just a week later when a judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit that is ongoing in the state. The court order allows for abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization to resume in Indiana pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

On August 5, 2022, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed Senate Bill 1 that establishes a near total ban on abortion. The legislation was passed by the state legislature during a special session called by the governor initially focused on addressing increasing costs due to inflation but added abortion after the US Supreme Court decision on Dobbs.  

Indiana ACEP President Daniel Elliott, MD FACEP testified during the public hearings held on the bill. At the hearing of the House Courts and Criminal Codes Committee, Dr. Elliott emphasized the chapter’s opposition to the bill, raising concerns that the bill impedes the patient physician relationship and criminalizes the practice of medicine, emphasizing that there are gray areas in treatment of patients on a case by case basis and that federal EMTALA requires emergency physicians to treat patients opening them to potential criminal prosecution. Lindsey Zimmerman, MD FACEP and Indiana ACEP Vice-President followed Dr. Elliott, testifying that the bill would force physicians to choose between committing criminal penalties or medical malpractice. (Archive video of August 2 hearing removed, IN ACEP testimony began at time 2:19:00) 

While the new law prohibits abortion, it does include exemptions when an abortion can be provided including “when reasonable medical judgment dictates that performing the abortion is necessary to prevent any serious health risk to the pregnant woman or to save the pregnant woman’s life,” if the fetus is diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly, and in the case of pregnancy due to rape or incest during the first ten weeks of pregnancy. A physician violating the law could face a level 5 Felony which carries the potential of 1 to 5 years in prison. 

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