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Indiana Law Defunding Planned Parenthood Is Rejected by Judge

June 25 (Bloomberg) -- An Indiana law barring any entity that provides abortions from receiving any type of state funding was blocked by a federal judge who said opponents of the statute showed a likelihood of success in the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in Indianapolis granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed after Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law in May.

“While it remains to be seen who will ultimately prevail on the merits, the court is persuaded” that Planned Parenthood demonstrated a “reasonable likelihood of success” in challenging the law, Pratt wrote in a decision yesterday.

The Indiana law would prohibit state agencies from entering into contracts with or making grants to any entity that performs abortions or maintains a facility where they’re performed.

“The public interest also tilts in favor of granting an injunction,” Pratt said, because the federal government has threatened partial or total withholding from the state as much as $5 billion dollars a year in Medicaid funds, affecting almost 1 million residents.

“Denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the state of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse,” Pratt said. “If dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle.”

Informed Consent

Pratt also barred an informed-consent provision of the law requiring that women seeking an abortion be told that, according to “objective scientific information,” fetuses can feel pain at or before 20 weeks after fertilization. She rejected Planned Parenthood’s request to block a portion of the law requiring that women be told that “human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.”

Bryan Crobin, a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, said in a statement that the office will thoroughly review the ruling and will likely appeal it.

The case is Planned Parenthood of Indiana Inc. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, 1:11-cv-630, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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