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Providers' last-ditch effort to halt abortion ban creates uncertainty over law's effect

 Mark Massa, seated, holds up a book that reads "Indiana Rules of Court 2023." Loretta Rush sits next to him, her chin in her hand.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa speaks to students during a Q&A at the University of Indianapolis on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. Chief Justice Loretta Rush sits beside him.

A last-ditch effort by Indiana abortion providers to halt the state’s near-total abortion ban is creating uncertainty about when that ban might take effect.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled a month ago that the ban doesn’t violate the state constitution’s guarantee of liberty. The state’s primary abortion care providers had a month to ask the court to rehear the case. And they waited until almost the last second to do so.

The providers, represented by the ACLU of Indiana, have asked the court to again temporarily halt the ban from taking effect — as it had been since last year. The ACLU said it’s going to file a new request to block the law at the trial court level, under the narrower guidelines of the Supreme Court’s recent decision.

That ruling from late June did acknowledge that the state constitution protects abortion rights when the serious health of the pregnant person is at risk. The providers argue that the law's definition of what constitutes a serious health risk is more restrictive than what the Supreme Court said the state constitution might allow.

The ban can’t take effect until the Supreme Court answers the ACLU’s petition, which could happen any time.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.