January 28, 2005

Pro-life bills in General Assembly
need public support

Click here to find out what you can do to support these and similar bills

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

Several bills have been introduced this session of the Indiana General Assembly to protect the unborn, four of which the Indiana Catholic Conference has marked as priorities.

The bills are:

• Abortion facilities licensure—Senate Bill 235, authored by Sen. Jeff Drozda
(R-Westfield), would require the State Department of Health to establish procedures for the inspection and licensure of a medical facility that performs abortions.

The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee.

• Abortion requirements—Senate Bill 76, authored by Sen. R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis) and Sen. Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis), would require abortion clinics to provide a video and audio ultrasound as part of informed consent law.

The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee.

• Conscience clause for pharmacists—Senate Bill 48, authored by Sen. Marvin Riegsecker (R-Goshen) and Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield), would give pharmacists the freedom to deny filling abortion-related prescriptions.

The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee.

• Ban on human cloning—Senate Bill 268, authored by Sen. Patricia Miller
(R-Indianapolis) would ban human cloning. The measures declares human cloning to be against public policy and would prohibit the state, a state educational institution or a political subdivision of the state from using resources to knowingly participate in human cloning activities.

The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee.

Drozda, author of SB 235, the abortion facilities licensure bill, said that what most people don’t understand about abortion facilities is that they are virtually unregulated with regard to health standards.

“There are more standards for a tattoo parlor or a veterinarian clinic than there are at abortion clinics,” he said.

Drozda is hopeful that this legislation would reduce or prevent surgical abortion, but said it is imperative to address the issue of chemical abortions too.

“We are going to see fewer and fewer surgical abortions, but many more chemical abortions as drugs like RU-486 and others are more readily available. That is why the conscience clause for pharmacists bill [SB 48] is so important this session too,” Drozda said.

While Drozda believes the life bills have a good chance of passing this year, he said without grassroots support and people calling their legislators, the bills could stall during the process.

Sen. Frank Mrvan Jr. (D-Hammond) referring to SB 235, said, “This is a common sense bill. Its function is to set up sanitary standards like infection control in these clinics. I would think these minimum standards should have already been in place, but the bill will guarantee that these basic medical standards are observed. I support the bill.”

Young, author of SB 76, said, “My goal is obviously to give people who are considering abortion as much information as possible to make this life or death decision. I think some of the opponents of this legislation don’t realize we are dealing with a real, live, breathing human being.”

Young said the bill gives women the right to obtain ultrasound or fetal heartbeat information.

“When we had this bill before the legislature a couple of years ago, we had women who testified that they didn’t need the information to make their decision. Others said they didn’t even know it was available to them and wanted the opportunity to have it,” said the Indianapolis senator.

“The goal is, as more women gain more information in making these decisions, that they will do the right thing and that means fewer abortions,” Young said.

Mike Fichter, executive director of Indiana Right to Life, who lives in Evansville, said, “Both Senate Bills 235 and 76 are highly protective of women’s rights in uniquely different ways.

“Senate Bill 235 serves a very functional role in protecting women’s health by requiring that abortion clinics meet basic health and safety requirements,” Fichter said. “Issues such as equipment sterilization, emergency access for medical personnel, and blood and tissue handling and disposal will be addressed by these regulations. 

“Senate Bill 76 plays an important educational role in safeguarding a woman’s right to be fully informed about the availability of ultrasound imaging and the ability to hear a fetal heartbeat,” he said. “The objective of both bills is to reduce the number of abortions and save lives.”

(Brigid Curtis Ayer is a correspondent for The Criterion.)


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