U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Seventh Circuit Ponders Abortion Ultrasound Rule

If Planned Parenthood has a war room, the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeal are in the middle of the battle plan.

The federal circuits take up the center ground in the United States, including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio. The appeals courts are dealing with contentious abortion issues in all their jurisdictions.

A judge in the Sixth Circuit struck an abortion ultrasound law a month ago, and now the Seventh Circuit is deciding a similar issue.

Ultrasound Rule

The Seventh Circuit heard arguments over Indiana's law that requires women to wait at least 18 hours between having a mandatory ultrasound and an abortion. The law requires medical providers to offer women the opportunity to observe the ultrasound, but cannot force them to look at it.

Planned Parenthood operates 17 clinics in Indiana, however, all do not have ultrasound equipment. As a result, some women would have to drive 200 miles to have an ultrasound prior to an abortion under the law.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the ultrasound rule, saying it would unduly burden a woman's right to an abortion. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher appealed, telling the Seventh Circuit that Planned Parenthood could reallocate its resources to lessen the burden on women.

"You're arguing that, rather than have the law enjoined, as a temporary measure, Planned Parenthood should buy more ultrasound equipment at a cost of $25,000 a piece," Judge Illana Rovner said. "Where are they supposed to get the money?"

Defunding Planned Parenthood

Meanwhile, the Eighth Circuit ruled against Planned Parenthood in key conflict in August. In that case, the appeals court said Arkansas can kick Planned Parenthood out of its network of Medicaid-approved health providers.

The decision followed federal legislation in April that guaranteed states the right to defund Planned Parenthood. But the organization said federal courts have blocked similar efforts in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Reagan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood, said the battle is not over.

"We will do everything in our power to protect our patients' access to birth control, cancer screenings and other lifesaving care," she said. "Extreme politicians are trying to defund and shut down Planned Parenthood -- and this is not what Americans want."

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