Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Nebraska Abortion Law
Planned Parenthood Federation of America applauds today’s preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp against Nebraska’s recently enacted “The Women’s Health Protection Act,” which requires physicians who may perform an abortion to discuss the entire body of research literature about possible health risks related to abortion with their patients who are seeking abortions, even though much of this information may be outdated, false or misleading.
Judge Camp issued the preliminary injunction in the case of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v Heineman, et. al. The preliminary injunction enjoins the Attorney General and other state officials from enforcing the flawed law.
“We are gratified that, at this preliminary stage, the Court has recognized that this statute is impossible to comply with, creates a profound chilling effect on the provision of abortions, and would likely place insurmountable obstacles in the path of women seeking abortions,” said Roger Evans, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director for Public Policy Litigation and Law. “We look forward to seeing this case through to a successful conclusion.”
“We are relieved the court is providing an opportunity for a thorough assessment of the impact of LB 594 and the constitutionality of the Act. The preliminary injunction was granted based on the judge’s decision that we have merit on the claims of our suit,” said Jill June, President and CEO Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
“LB 594 presents a political and dangerous interference in a woman's most personal, private medical decisions and her trusted relationship with her doctor. Physicians, not politicians, should decide what is discussed with a patient," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU collaborated with attorneys at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in filing this litigation.
Judge Camp’s ruling noted that, “No such legislative concern for the health of women, or of men, has given rise to any remotely similar informed-consent statutes applicable to other medical procedure …”
She continued that compliance with the law’s requirements “would be impossible or nearly impossible,” and would place “physicians who perform abortions in immediate jeopardy of crippling civil litigation, thereby placing women in immediate jeopardy of losing access to physicians who are willing to perform abortions.”
Judge Camp further noted that the law would compel a doctor to tell his or her patient false and medically inaccurate information, against the physician’s own best medical judgment. In her ruling, she writes, “Plaintiffs have presented substantial evidence that the disclosures mandated by LB 594, if applied literally, will require medical providers to give untruthful, misleading, and irrelevant information to patients.”
“The Women’s Health Protection Act” purports to ensure that women are “informed” of potential health risks before consenting to an abortion. This requirement to inform patients may seem reasonable on the surface, but the reality is that the Act requires a physician to identify all articles that mention any supposed risk factor associated with abortion, without regard to the language in which the articles were published, how long ago they appeared, their relevance to medical practice in Nebraska in the 21st century, and whether their findings have ever been accepted by the medical profession. An initial review of PubMed, one of the databases that must be searched for such articles under the new Nebraska law, found more than 65,000 articles in dozens of different languages dating back to the 1900s that physicians would have to review.
Under the Act, a physician would be required to discuss flawed studies that purport to find a link between abortion and breast cancer, even though the leading medical organizations — such as the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — have all flatly rejected any association between abortion and breast cancer.
The lawsuit names Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, Kerry Winterer and Dr. Joann Schaefer of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Crystal Higgins of the Nebraska Board of Nursing, and Brenda Bergman-Evans of the Nebraska Board of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses as defendants.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has served women and men of all ages in the Heartland since the mid-1930s. Today the agency offers a full range of quality reproductive health care services to residents in Nebraska, 86 Iowa counties and three counties in Illinois through 23 medical centers and Education and Resource Centers located in Des Moines, Lincoln and Omaha.
July 14, 2010
May 14, 2014