On August 22, 2013, ACLU-Indiana filed suit (PDF) on behalf of Planned Parenthood Indiana challenging SB 371. SB 371 changed the definition of “abortion clinic” to include a facility where RU-486 is dispensed. Making that change, means that the facility has to include physical requirements imposed on facilities where surgical procedures are performed even if no surgical procedures are performed at the particular clinic.
As a practical matter, this legislation is directed at the Lafayette Planned Parenthood which provides access to RU-486 but doesn’t provide surgical abortions. Because of the legislation, it has to have – by January 1, 2014 – a procedure room that is at least 120 square feet, scrub facilities, and recovery rooms; among other requirements. The complaint alleges that the Lafayette Planned Parenthood currently consists of rented space with a waiting room and receptionist area, four examination rooms, a patient and employee restroom, four small offices, storage areas, and a staff break room.
Because the facility does not provide surgical services, the complaint argues that these new requirements impose a substantial burden with no rational basis. The complaint argues that Commissioner of Health is allowed to grant waivers of regulatory requirements for good cause shown doing so will not adversely affect health, safety, and welfare of the patient; except that the Commissioner is not permitted to grant waivers in the case of abortion clinics (including, now, clinics that dispense RU-486).The complaint argues that, because the burdens imposed on the Lafayette clinic that are relevant only to clinics that perform surgical abortions, it is a violation of the substantive due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment and, further argues, that because it imposes burdens on the Lafayette clinic that aren’t applied to physicians offices and because the Department of Health can grant waivers for other procedures but not abortions, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The State has several weeks before it has to file its response.