Indiana Just Scored a Big Win for Women's Reproductive Rights

April 3rd 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Planned Parenthood just scored a big legal victory after a federal judge blocked a state law requiring ultrasounds—on abortion opponent and Vice President Mike Pence's home turf, no less. 

An ultrasound machine.

A temporary injunction by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on Friday temporarily suspended an Indiana law that required women to get an ultrasound (a scan that creates images of a fetus) at least 18 hours before receiving an abortion, according to Reuters. The law was in effect since July 1, 2016, and the American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit against it on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. Pratt also blocked the part of the bill that made it illegal to have an abortion based on the potential for disorders or genetic abnormalities, like Down Syndrome, according to The Associated Press. 

Pratt reportedly wrote that these "burdens are clearly undue" in regards to the required ultrasounds. 

"This is a major victory for women in the state. It's a major victory for Planned Parenthood," said Ken Falk, legal director at ACLU in Indiana at a press conference on Monday. 

Vice President Mike Pence signed the ultrasound bill into law as governor of Indiana. 


In March 2016, Pence signed House Enrolled Act 1337 that required ultrasounds, and made it illegal to have an abortion because of race, gender, or potential disabilities or disorders. Pence, a well-known opponent of Planned Parenthood, also made the tie breaking vote last week for legislation that could pave the way for the Republican controlled Congress to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funds if it continues to provide abortion services. The Hyde Amendment already prevents federal funds from being used for abortions. 

State ultrasound requirements are often used as a way to dissuade women from getting an abortion. 


Since the mid-1990s states have made laws requiring women to either get information about ultrasound services or actually get an ultrasound before receiving abortion services, according to Guttmacher Institute, a research and advocacy organization for reproductive rights. 

  • 14 states require counseling or written materials that include information about getting an ultrasound. 
  • Four states require abortion providers to give an ultrasound and describe the image before providing abortion services. 
  • 10 states require providers to give an ultrasound before giving an abortion. 
  • Nine states require that a woman have the opportunity to view an ultrasound image if it's being provided as part of preparation for an abortion. 
  • Six states require that women have the option to view an ultra sound image before an abortion.

RELATED: Women's Reproductive Rights Just Took Three Major Losses