Judge halts Indiana abortion law targeting minors

(Reuters) - Indiana may appeal a U.S. court ruling that blocked parts of the state’s latest abortion law that critics said would deter girls under 18 from getting an abortion without parental approval, the state attorney general’s office said on Thursday.

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U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a preliminary injunction late on Wednesday against portions of measure signed in April by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.

Indiana law already required parental consent for minors unless a judge provided a waiver known as a “judicial bypass.” The new law allowed the judge to notify parents if the waiver is granted, and was scheduled to take effect July 1.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued to stop the law in May, arguing it created an unconstitutional burden on minors and would create a chilling effect.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is reviewing the ruling to determine whether to appeal, spokesman Corey Elliot said in an interview.

“Wednesday’s injunction essentially encourages a minor to go it alone through the emotionally and physically overwhelming procedure of aborting a human being,” Hill said in a statement.

“We will always support the authority of parents to know what is going on with their children.”

The judge also blocked provisions that barred abortion clinics from talking with teens about options in other states, and more stringent identification requirements for parents before their child gets an abortion.

“This decision affirms that the state must continue to provide a safe alternative for young women who - whatever their circumstances - are unable to talk to their parents about this difficult and personal decision,” ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said in a statement.

The Indiana State Department of Health recorded 244 abortions in 2015 of girls aged 10 to 17, roughly 3 percent of the state total.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a minor who is unable or unwilling to obtain parental consent for an abortion must be allowed to proceed if a judge determines that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision herself or that an abortion is in her best interest, the ACLU said.

Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Richard Chang