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Judge strikes down state law banning help for minors with abortion access in other states

The exterior of a Planned Parenthood clinic. Planned Parenthood and its logo are on the side of the building.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Planned Parenthood sued Indiana in 2017 over a state law that banned it and its staff from informing minor patients about abortion laws in other states.

A federal court this week permanently struck down a state law that tried to ban people from telling minors about other states’ abortion laws without parental consent.

Indiana law long required anyone under age 18 to get parental consent for an abortion. A 2017 measure, SEA 404, sought to prohibit people from telling minors about other states’ abortion laws or helping them, in any way, to access abortion care outside of Indiana without the required parental consent.

Planned Parenthood sued the state, arguing that prohibition violated the First Amendment’s right to free speech. A federal court temporarily halted the law before it took effect, and that injunction has remained in place since.

READ MORE: Indiana’s near-total abortion ban is now in effect. Here’s what you need to know

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A lot has changed in abortion law since 2017. But a federal judge this week ruled that the ban on telling minors about other states’ laws or helping them access care elsewhere is still unconstitutional.

The judge permanently struck down that part of the law, ruling the state can’t enforce it against Planned Parenthood or its employees.

In a statement, the ACLU of Indiana — which represented Planned Parenthood in the case — said it's "extremely important" that providers can inform patients about out-of-state abortion care options in the wake of Indiana's near-total abortion ban.

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky CEO Rebecca Gibron called attempts to ban access to such information "cruel and inhumane."

"Planned Parenthood is grateful for any progress in removing barriers to essential care for all Hoosiers," Gibron said in a statement.

Indiana Right To Life President and CEO Mike Fichter called the latest ruling an "outrage" that undercuts parental rights.

"It also opens the door for Indiana abortion providers to sell abortions to young girls across state borders – all without parents knowing," Fichter said in a statement.

Indiana Right To Life expects state Attorney General Todd Rokita to appeal the decision.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at 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.