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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller defending law on Lafayette abortion clinic

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 8:06 am

INDIANAPOLIS — Attorney General Greg Zoeller asked a federal judge on Wednesday to uphold a new law that would shut down Lafayette's only abortion clinic.

Zoeller made the state's case before U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, who is considering a request from the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana to block the law before it takes effect on Jan. 1. Zoeller said the law reflects the will of Indiana citizens and that the ACLU and others trying to stop it haven't proven their case.

"We respectfully contend the plaintiffs have not met their burden and this newly passed public-health statute should remain intact and no injunction should be granted," Zoeller said.

Indiana lawmakers approved several new requirements earlier this year for clinics that dispense the RU-486 abortion pill, including requiring such clinics to build separate recovery and surgical-procedure rooms and to widen doorways. While the new law is broadly written to apply to clinics providing just the medication and not surgical abortions, it would only apply to one Planned Parenthood clinic, in Lafayette.

"The state is basically saying you have to have a surgical abortion clinic in Lafayette," said Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana's legal director. "Planned Parenthood's position is it's completely irrational to have something like this when we don't perform surgery at all."

Nine surgical abortion clinics are currently licensed in Indiana, including three run by Planned Parenthood, according to state records.

The ACLU also argued that the new law was similar to other laws that federal courts have struck down.

Supporters of the new law argue that it's needed to protect women's health from potentially fatal consequences after taking the abortion pill. Opponents have called it another attempt by the state to limit abortions.

The law and subsequent lawsuit continue years of litigation between the state and Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers approved a measure in 2011 denying federal funding for Planned Parenthood. However, a federal administrative ruling earlier this year and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to take on the issue effectively left the state with no means to enforce the law.