INDIANAPOLIS — dr Jeanne Corwin traveled about two hours Friday from her hometown of Cincinnati to an abortion clinic in Indianapolis, where she saw the clinic’s first 12 patients the day after an Indiana judge blocked enforcement of the abortion ban. in the state.
It’s a journey Corwin has made several times in recent months, as her Ohio medical license allows her to sign the paperwork required for Women’s Med patients in Indiana to access care at the clinic’s sister location in Dayton.
But with Indiana’s abortion ban temporarily suspended, along with a judge’s Sept. 14 blockade of an Ohio ban on nearly all abortions, Women’s Med and other Indiana abortion clinics resumed seeing patients Friday as anticipated more changes amid volatile access to abortion in the country after the United States Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned Roe v. Calf.
“It’s a ray of hope and common sense,” Corwin said of Thursday’s ruling blocking Indiana’s abortion ban.
One patient who came to the clinic on Friday was an Indianapolis woman who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for privacy reasons. It was the 31-year-old woman’s second abortion, she said. The first was at 16, when she was afraid of caring for a child and worried what her parents would think of her pregnancy.
“At that time, I felt that I was too young to have a child,” the patient said. “I can’t even imagine what life would be like now.”
Now focused on a career and with a child she had at age 25, the patient said she chose to have an abortion because she and her partner decided that another child would not be in their best interest at this time.
Hours after Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction Thursday against Indiana’s abortion ban, the state filed a promised appeal and motion asking the state’s superior court to take up the case. .
Under Indiana’s ban, which has exceptions, abortion clinics would have lost their licenses and been barred from providing any type of abortion care, leaving such services solely to hospitals or hospital-owned ambulatory surgical centers.
The ban also only allows abortions in cases of rape and incest before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the patient; or if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.
With the Indiana law on hold, bans on abortion at any time during pregnancy are in place in 12 Republican-led states. In Wisconsin, clinics have stopped performing abortions amid litigation over whether the 1849 ban is in place. Georgia bans abortions once fetal heart activity can be detected. And Florida and Utah have bans that go into effect after 15 and 18 weeks of gestation, respectively.
The state attorney general’s office had asked Hanlon to uphold the state’s ban, saying the arguments against it are based on a “novel, unwritten and historically unsupported right to abortion” in the state constitution.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represents abortion clinics, filed the suit Aug. 31, arguing that the ban “would ban the overwhelming majority of abortions in Indiana and, as such, will have a devastating and irreparable impact on the plaintiffs. and, most importantly, their patients and clients.”
Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, said Friday that the plaintiffs now have 15 days to file their response to the state’s stay request. He said he did not expect any immediate hearing on the matter.
Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, said in a statement that the organization is “encouraged by the judge’s recognition of the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn babies” and “hopes the lockdown will be brief.” .
While such legal conflicts play out in the background, Women’s Med will provide abortions while it can, most likely starting next week, said Dr. Katie McHugh, an abortion provider at the clinic.
The patients who walked through the clinic’s doors on Friday signed state-required consent forms and finished their second appointment, which is when the abortion will be performed. Indiana has an 18-hour waiting period for abortions, while Ohio has a 24-hour waiting period.
An understaffed Indiana clinic will also continue to send patients from Indiana to Ohio for the procedure until Women’s Med returns to normal. Clinic staff traveled between the two states to keep each clinic afloat when the other was closed, McHugh said.
“The last three months since the Dobbs decision have been so out of the ordinary that we’ve had to make do with the time, staff and resources we had,” McHugh said. “We’re trying to get back on our feet.”
Elsewhere in Indiana, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, said the South Bend abortion clinic is trying to “get the right staff together to see patients again.”
Jody Madeira, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, said the judge’s interpretation of the Indiana Constitution’s article on liberty is encouraging to abortion rights groups, who say liberty rights include bodily autonomy.
“This is quite a different argument from what you would expect from a Republican judge who tends to read the text of the Constitution narrowly,” said Madeira, who anticipates the Indiana Supreme Court will ultimately rule on the legality of the ban.
There are separate licensing procedures for abortion clinics and hospitals, another burden proposing “reasonable and legitimate reasons to terminate” clinic licenses, the judge’s order says.
The question of whether the state constitution protects the right to abortion is still unresolved. A state appeals court ruled in 2004 that privacy is a core value under the state constitution that extends to all residents, including women seeking an abortion.
But the Indiana Supreme Court later upheld a law requiring an 18-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion, though it did not decide whether the state constitution included a right to privacy or abortion.
“You can have the right,” Madeira said, “but not the access or the infrastructure.”
Arleigh Rodgers is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues. Follow Arleigh Rodgers on Twitter at