February 25, 2005

Legislation to protect
the unborn moves forward

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

Protecting the unborn, helping the elderly and disabled, and providing education tax credits for families who send their children to a non-public school may all become a reality if the following measures pass the Indiana General Assembly this year.

The Ultrasound Bill, Senate Bill 76, authored by State Senators R. Michael Young and Patricia Miller, from Indianapolis, would require abortion clinics to provide an ultrasound and heartbeat intonations as part of the informed consent law.

During a Feb. 16 hearing before the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, Indiana Catholic Conference executive director Glenn Tebbe testified in support of the bill, saying, “Based on the belief that all life is sacred, the Indiana Catholic Conference believes it is important that women considering abortion are truly informed about the fetal development and alternatives as well as the procedure and its risks.”

Tebbe went on to tell legislators during the hearing, “The Indiana Catholic Conference believes that the state’s compelling interest in the physical and mental health of the mother as well as protection of the unborn child clearly justifies this additional requirement. All relevant information should be taken into consideration when making such a serious decision.”

In a recent interview with the Indiana Catholic Conference, Sen. Young,
R-Indianapolis, said, “The goal [of the bill] is as more women gain more information in making these decisions that they will do the right thing—and that means fewer abortions.”

Tebbe, who gives a weekly legislative update on Indianapolis Catholic Radio 89.1 FM said, “It is not uncommon for a woman considering abortion to change her mind once she hears her baby’s heartbeat or sees a photo of her baby from an ultrasound image.”

Senate Bill 76 passed the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee as amended in a 6-3 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for further action.

In light of possible Medicaid cuts, (state funded healthcare services to low-income persons) the Indiana Catholic Conference has been following the long term care funding bills. One bill which is making headway through the legislative process is House Bill 1326, the CHOICE funding bill.

House Bill 1326reorganizes funding for the community and home options to institutional care for the elderly and disabled program (CHOICE) by allowing unused funds to be used for subsequent fiscal years for CHOICE rather than reverting back to the state’s general fund. The bill calls for sufficient funding to be provided for the program to eliminate waiting lists and provide care for all who are eligible for the program.

House Bill 1326 passed the House Public Health and Provider Services Committee by a 12-0 vote, and passed the full House by a unanimous vote of 94-0. Sen. Greg Server, D-Evansville, and Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, are the Senate co-sponsors of the bill. House Bill 1326 has been assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

“ CHOICE funding bill is really about the dignity of the human person,” said Tebbe. “The bill allows those of limited means including the elderly, the disabled and families with children to choose the type of care, the nature of care and where they will receive the care.

“The objective is to provide better, more personalized and self-directed care. This is in the best interest of the common good because the bill addresses the Medicaid funding problem, by reducing the cost of care and allowing a greater number of people to be served.”

Education tax credits for Catholic families may become a reality for the first time in Indiana if a measure which is moving through the Indiana House of Representa-tives passes the Indiana General Assembly this year.

State Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indian-apolis, amended House Bill 1009—Education Tax Credits and Scholarships for failing schools—to create Indiana’s first private school choice program including: tax credits for education expenditures, including tuition and a scholarship program for students currently enrolled in failing public schools.

The bill passed the House Education Committee by a 6-4 vote and is now eligible for a vote by the Indiana House of Representatives.

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

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