Byline: Derek Hawkins
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: Whole Woman's Health Alliance, et al. v. Curtis T. Hill, Jr., et al.
Case No.: 19-2051
Officials: WOOD, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges.
Focus: 14th Amendment Abortion Preliminary Injunction
Indiana, like many states, has an elaborate network of laws regulating abortion care. The present appeal presents a narrow question: is one provider entitled to a preliminary injunction against one part of those laws, as it relates to one clinic in one city? More will come along later, as the district court proceeds to resolve the underlying case, in which plaintiffs have asserted more broadly that various aspects of Indiana's abortion regime violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. But the merits stage of the case is still in its infancy. The provider now before us is Whole Woman's Health Alliance ("the Alliance"). It is having trouble complying with Indiana's abortion laws, despite its attempts to do so. The Alliance has for the past two years been unable to obtain a license from the Indiana State Department of Health ("the Department"). It needs such a license in order to open a clinic that exclusively provides medication abortion care in South Bend, Indiana. After almost two years, two unsuccessful applications, a statutory amendment to relevant definitions, and a moving target of wide-ranging requests for information, the Alliance concluded that its attempts were futile and turned to the federal court for assistance. It filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that would exempt it from the licensing requirement, thereby allowing it to provide care at the South Bend clinic while the case proceeds.
The district court granted the requested preliminary relief. It held that the Alliance has shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that Indiana's requirement of licensure for clinics that provide only medication abortions (that is, those induced exclusively by taking pills), as applied to the South Bend clinic, violates both the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The state has taken an interlocutory appeal asking us to lift that injunction. See 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1). While that appeal has been pending, we issued an order narrowing the scope of the district court's injunction, and we heard oral argument on the question whether the preliminary injunction should be stayed...