Rights groups sue to block Indiana abortion ban

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By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) - Abortion rights groups and medical providers in Indiana said they filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop the state's ban on the procedure from going into effect.

The lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky and other groups argues the law violates Indiana's state constitution by abrogating its protections for privacy, due process and other rights.

A copy of the complaint seen by Reuters was not marked as received by the court, but it did indicate it would be filed in state court in Monroe County.

Indiana's ban, the first to be passed after the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the 49-year-old precedent that established a national right to abortion, would make the procedure illegal in most circumstances.

It prohibits all abortions after conception, with limited exceptions for rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormalities or a serious health risk to the mother.

“This ban is dangerous and cruel," Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky said in a statement. "It will directly harm the people of Indiana and send ripple effects through our entire health care system."

Unless the court intervenes, Indiana's ban is set to take effect Sept. 15.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita vowed to defend the law, which he said was life-saving.

"The Left is notorious for fighting to erase all of the progress and protections secured by the pro-life movement," Rokita said in a statement to Reuters. "We don’t need the warped opinions of organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood dictating how we do things in Indiana."

The lawsuit is one of several filed by civil liberties and reproductive rights groups around the country arguing that state constitutions protect the right to an abortion.

Last week, new abortion bans took effect in four U.S. states, adding to the raft of restrictions states have enforced since the U.S. Supreme Court ended the right to abortion in June.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Chris Reese)