After 2 judges recuse themselves from Indiana abortion lawsuit, special judge agrees to preside over case

In late August, abortion providers filed a lawsuit challenging Indiana's new abortion ban. Indiana Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon agreed to take on the case after two judges previously recused themselves, ABC News reported on Friday.

Indiana lawmakers voted in August to ban abortion in the state with limited exceptions. Starting September 15, abortion procedures will only be legally permitted in rape, incest, or medical emergency cases within the first 10 weeks.

Abortion providers performing the procedure outside those exceptions will have their licenses revoked and could be jailed for one to six years and fined a maximum of $10,000.

According to the Department of Health's annual report, over 8,000 abortions were performed in Indiana in 2021. Approximately 68% of the pregnancies were terminated at eight weeks or earlier.

Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Indiana was the first state to pass new legislation banning abortion.

The lawsuit attempting to block the ban was filed by Planned Parenthood, the Lawyering Project, the ACLU of Indiana, and WilmerHale on behalf of abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, Women's Med Group Professional Corp, and All-Options. The case was filed against the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana and county prosecutors.

The plaintiffs in the case have requested a preliminary injunction to prevent the new law from going into effect until the lawsuit is completed.

The lawsuit alleges the state violated Indiana's guarantee of equal privileges and immunities. Additionally, the plaintiffs say the law of includes vague language, which the lawsuit alleged violates the state constitution's due course of law clause.

"From its very inception, the Indiana Constitution has protected the right to privacy. Implicit in this right is the right for a woman to make medical decisions regarding her own reproductive health," stated Ken Falk, legal director of ACLU of Indiana.

Monroe Circuit Court Judge Holly Harvey was initially assigned to hear the case. However, Harvey recused herself from the case and declined to comment on her decision, reported ABC News.

Last week, Judge Geoffrey Bradley also recused himself from the case and did not provide a reason in the court filings.

Indiana Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon has agreed to preside over the case. An initial telephone hearing is scheduled for Monday.