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Monday, November 28, 2005

Ind. Decisions - "The Indiana Supreme Court has ducked a couple of tough calls."

"The Indiana Supreme Court has ducked a couple of tough calls" is the headline to an editorial today in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Some quotes:

In a 4-1 ruling, it skirted the question of whether the state’s law or constitution recognizes same-sex parenting agreements and sent back to trial court a custody battle between two women who had lived together, raising a child one of them conceived through artificial insemination. The non-biological parent sought custody, but the trial court said she had no legal standing. The Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed, saying the woman was a “legal parent.” The Supreme Court upheld the appeals court, but not its legal-parent reasoning. It merely ruled that the trial court erred, because Indiana courts have the authority to consider the best interests of the child, which might involve placing the child with someone other than the natural parents. Justice Brent Dickson, the dissenter, also raised the point that the majority opinion “may open a veritable Pandora’s Box of troublesome questions” about parental rights. “Will this remedy thus be available, for example, to grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, in-laws, foster parents and former or current spouses or domestic companions, etc.? If so, today’s opinion may create an enormous opportunity for future litigation disruptive to the stability and security of children.”

In an abortion case, also decided 4-1, the court upheld Indiana’s waiting-period law, which requires a woman seeking an abortion to receive in-person counseling about medical risks and alternatives at least 18 hours before the procedure. Opponents who sued to have the law overturned argued that privacy is a core right under the state constitution that extends to women who want to end their pregnancies. The court didn’t want to go there, so it upheld the waiting period by reviewing decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts and concluding that the law does not impose a “substantial obstacle to a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy.”

The custody case is Dawn King v. S.B. (In re Parentage of A.B.) (11/23/05) - see ILB entry here.

The abortion case is Clinic for Women v. Carl Brizzi (11/23/05) - see most recent ILB entry at 11/26/05.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 28, 2005 04:13 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions