April 8, 2005

Bills to protect women and unborn
advance in state legislature

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

At a time when respect for life, on the national scene—as in the Terri Schiavo case—seems to be at an all-time low, legislative efforts in Indiana to protect life at its earliest stages appear hopeful as three life bills advance in the Indiana General Assembly.

Senate Bill568, which would require the Indiana Depart­ment of Health to regulate abortion providers for the first time in the state’s history, passed the Indiana House of Representatives on second reading without being amended.

The bill was originally about regulating birthing centers, but was amended during a recent House Public Policy and Veterans Affairs Committee to include the abortion regulation language from House Bill 1607, which died earlier this year.

Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, said “Senate Bill 568 not only authorizes the Indiana Department of Health to create regulations for these clinics but it [also] requires them to do it.”

Tebbe said that the standards for the abortion clinics will be determined by the Indiana Department of Health as well as others who are concerned about public health.

Although Senate Bill 568 has not been passed by the legislature yet, Tebbe said, “The fact that there were no amendments proposed on second reading is a good sign that the bill should pass the House with strong support.”

The House vote on the third reading was 75-18, and included amendments. It now will return to the Senate.

Americans United for Life, a national pro-life and bioethics law firm, produces an annual document called State Report Cards. Indiana was ranked 27 out of 50 states in terms of abortion regulation laws that require informed consent and other regulations that protect the mother and unborn child.

Another life bill, SB 76, the ultrasound bill, passed the Indiana House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 83–13. Sen. R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis), author of the bill, explained that it gives women the right to obtain ultrasound or fetal heartbeat information if they want access to it.

“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.

Since SB 76 was not amended, it goes directly to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature or veto. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

A measure to banhuman cloning, SB 268, survived second amendment challenges to weaken the ban. Of the amendments that failed, one would have amended the bill to allow women to sell ova (eggs). Other proposed amendments that failed would have restricted reproductive cloning only, but permitted therapeutic cloning for research purposes.

“Therapeutic cloning destroys the embryo, and the Church opposes embryonic stem cell research for that reason,” Tebbe said.

The cloning ban measure now moves to be voted on by the Indiana House of Representatives.

Tebbe said he expects the cloning ban measure to pass the House, but since the bill was amended in a House committee, it must go back to the Senate.

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

Local site Links: