Earlier in May, a federal judge blocked IU’s attempt to join a lawsuit that challenges the state’s new abortion restrictions law.
“Indiana University has filed suit in U.S. District Court to stop the implementation of Indiana House Enrolled Act 1337, which places significant restrictions on abortion and criminalizes the receipt, transmission or purchase of fetal tissue for any reason,” IU spokesperson Mark Land said in a statement. “The act, signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence in April, is set to take effect in July.”
IU is represented by the Board of Trustees, IU’s Office for the Vice President of Research and faculty and research leaders at the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute.
IU asked the court to declare the new law unconstitutional because it is unduly vague and violates First Amendment rights related to academic freedom of university researchers.
In May, IU filed a motion to join in a Planned Parenthood lawsuit against the state of Indiana. The law prohibits certain research and the law could subject researchers to criminal charges. The researchers work with fetal tissue for multiple purposes. The tissue is used for research for autism and Alzheimer’s disease among other conditions.
“The law’s sweeping prohibitions — which would make it a felony for IU faculty researchers to possess, purchase, sell or share fetal tissue for any purpose — would irreparably harm the University’s ability conduct important research into Alzheimer’s and other devastating neurological diseases that relies on the use of fetal tissue, while at the same time placing IU researchers at risk for criminal prosecution,” Land said.
IU filed the suit May 25 to protect its work and researchers. IU was unable to file a motion to intervene in the lawsuit between Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky against the State of Indiana.
IU waited 39 days before filing a motion. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Planned Parenthood of Indiana filed their lawsuit in April. The organizations consider the law unconstitutional and a violation of privacy rights.
In addition, the law also bans abortions sought solely because the fetus might be born with a disability such as Down syndrome or because of the fetus’ gender or race.
“House Enrolled Act 1337 runs counter to existing Indiana law, which currently allows for the purchase and sale of fetuses or fetal tissue for research purposes,” Land said. “HEA 1337 contains no such research exception. Indiana University does not conduct research using whole fetuses at any stage in their viability.”
The act, if taken into effect, will cause IU to lose millions of dollars in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies.
The law is set to take effect July 1.
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