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Indiana Asks High Court to Review Abortion Clinic License Row

Dec. 10, 2019, 8:14 PM

A South Bend, Ind., clinic that performs medication abortions shouldn’t have been given a green light to open despite its failure to obtain a state license, Indiana told the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state is asking the high court to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The federal appeals court ordered Indiana to allow the clinic, operated by Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, to begin seeing patients while it’s fighting licensing requirements that it contends are unduly burdensome.

Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) Dec. 9 argued the state must be given the authority to enforce its own licensing requirements for abortion clinics. Whole Woman’s based its claim on the constitutional rights of future patients. But only women seeking abortions, not providers, can assert those rights, Hill said.

Hill also asked the high court to determine if a federal court can order a state agency to issue an abortion clinic a license as a remedy for an alleged undue burden imposed by the state’s licensing requirements.

The Seventh Circuit originally blocked Indiana’s enforcement of the entire clinic licensing scheme. But the court narrowed its order to allow the clinic to open while the state exercises its normal regulatory power over it.

The South Bend clinic isn’t exempt from licensing requirements, the Seventh Circuit said. But the state’s handling of its license application suggested it was trying to block access to all legal abortions, not just vet and monitor providers, the appeals court said.

A medication abortion is one in which a woman is given two medications to induce termination of a pregnancy.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office represents the state.

The case is Hill v. Whole Woman’s Health All., U.S., Docket No. unavailable, filed 12/9/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Anne Pazanowski in Washington at mpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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