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Planned Parenthood sues Indiana over abortion law

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Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/File

(Read caption) In this Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 file picture, anti-abortion and pro-choice activists stand next to each other in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington during a rally on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

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Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit Thursday against the state of Indiana to protest a recently signed law that prohibits abortions if the procedure is taken as a result of genetic abnormalities.

The lawsuit asserts that the new law is unconstitutional, also challenging a provision that requires the burial or cremation of a fetus if abortions are carried out.

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The Indiana branch of the non-profit Planned Parenthood is seeking an injunction to prevent the law from coming into effect on July 1.

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“The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed that a woman, not the state, is to determine whether or not to obtain an abortion,” said Ken Falk, legal director of ACLU Indiana, in a statement. “The State of Indiana’s attempt to invade a woman’s privacy and to control her decision in this regard is unprecedented and unconstitutional.”

Indiana is something of a trailblazer in the controversial abortion debate, only the second state after North Dakota to prohibit terminations based on prenatal diagnosis of conditions such as Down Syndrome.

In protest at the new law, a campaign has been launched called “Periods from Pence,” a reference to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in which women call the Governor’s office to share information about their menstrual experiences. The group is also planning a demonstration this weekend.

Gov. Pence’s press secretary, Stephanie Hodgin, told the Associated Press that her boss “has every confidence this law is constitutional” and that he and his staff “will work with the Attorney General to defend the law that enhances information expectant mothers receive and enhances protection for the unborn.”

Some also cast aspersions on the motives behind the lawsuit, saying that Planned Parenthood has money in mind.

“Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the Dignity for the Unborn law comes as no surprise,” said Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, in a statement. “This is the same song and dance we have seen from the abortion provider anytime they feel their lucrative abortion business is threatened.”

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But the complaint presented by ACLU and Planned Parenthood states that the new law “imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion because it bars that choice under certain circumstances, even if the pregnancy is in its early stages and the fetus is not viable.”

The next phase of this chapter in the ongoing abortion debate that roils the nation will take place in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who cast down a law in 2011 that sought to exclude entities performing abortions from receiving state funding.