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Supreme Court lets Indiana enforce abortion parental consent requirement

The law requires patients under 18 years old to notify parents or guardians in order to get abortions.
Abortion-rights demonstrators hold placards as they march
Abortion-rights demonstrators march past the Monroe County Courthouse on July 4 in Bloomington, Ind. Jeremy Hogan / LightRocket via Getty Images

The Supreme Court issued an order Monday allowing Indiana to begin enforcing a state law requiring parental consent in order for a minor to get an abortion.

The law was passed in 2017, but lower courts blocked it. They found it unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s longstanding rulings on abortion. But after the court overturned Roe v. Wade and other precedents in late June, Indiana asked the lower courts to lift the stay and allow it to enforce the law.

The case has sat before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which said it could not act until it received formal notice of the Supreme Court’s ruling, known as the judgment. Under Supreme Court rules, that would not normally be transmitted to the lower courts until July 25.

Last week, Indiana asked the Supreme Court to issue the judgment immediately, arguing that the existing rulings blocking enforcement have no legal basis and are harming important state interests.  

“Delay would only serve to prevent enforcement of a duly enacted state statute designed to protect minors, families, and the unborn,” lawyers for the state said in their court filings.

On Monday, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a brief order granting the state’s request to transmit the judgement immediately. 

The law requires patients under 18 years old to notify a parent or guardian to get an abortion, unless a patient gets authority from a juvenile court that it would be in the minor's best interests to get the procedure without parental notification.

When the Supreme Court issued its decision overturning Roe, Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, praised the ruling. “We eagerly anticipate clearer paths for Indiana’s commonsense laws protecting unborn children and their mothers,” he said.

The state followed the normal practice and directed its application to Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court justice assigned to consider appeals from that part of the country. But because she was a member of the appeals court when the Indiana case was pending, the application was apparently referred instead to Roberts.