February 10, 2006

Informed consent legislation advances to reduce abortions

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

Indiana’s informed consent law may reduce abortions if a bill which passed the Indiana House of Representatives by a 70-30 vote becomes law.

House Bill 1172, a bill the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) supports, requires that before an abortion, women be given information that the fetus may feel pain, and that after 20 weeks an anesthetic for the fetus may be available. It also changes the informed consent statute to require written information about adoption alternatives and physical risks concerning abortion. Also, the written information must include the statement that life begins at fertilization.

Rep. Tim Harris (R-Marion), author of the bill, said, “As more information has become available and agreed upon by those in the scientific and medical community, it becomes evident when you look at Indiana’s informed consent law that it is lacking important evidence. In making this difficult decision, a mother should know all the facts.

“There is evidence from fetal surgery that the baby feels pain. The hope is that when the mother does realize that, she may change her mind about the abortion,” Harris said. “The other really important part of the bill requires that written information about adoption options be provided to the mother, as well as physical risks to abortion. And the bill defines that human life begins at fertilization.”

Rep. Eric Turner (R-Marion), who co-authored the bill, said, “I think it is only right to provide this information to women who are considering an abortion because choosing the procedural steps to have an abortion has many physical and emotional risks. I also hope that by providing this information, women will understand that there are other options beyond ending the life of the unborn child.”

Reps. Robert Bischoff (D-Greendale) and Troy Woodruff (R-Vincennes) are also co-authors of the bill.

“The number one goal of this bill is education,” said Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield), Senate sponsor of the bill. “People need to understand there’s a baby involved, and the baby will feel pain.”

Drozda said he is uncertain whether the bill will receive a hearing or pass the Senate. For this reason, he encouraged people to contact their state senators and tell them they want House Bill 1172 to get a hearing and legislators to support the bill.

“This is an issue where legislators will respond to their constituents,” said Drozda, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Westfield, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese. Sens. Mike Delph (R-Carmel) and Allie Craycraft (D-Selma) are co-sponsoring HB 1172.

Last month, Glenn Tebbe, executive director for the Indiana Catholic Conference, testified in support of HB 1172 before the House Public Policy Committee.

“Because the effect may be to reduce abortion, ICC supports HB 1172,” Tebbe told committee members. “Support for the bill does not imply support or approval of the practice of abortion or that providing an anesthetic makes the practice acceptable. ICC abhors the reason and necessity of the law—abortion itself. Each life is sacred and created in the image of God. All life is to be protected.”

Groups which also testified in support of HB 1172 primarily based on moral grounds included Advance America, the Indiana Family Institute and Indiana Right to Life. Groups testifying in opposition to HB 1172 primarily based their testimony on the arguments of privacy and reproductive rights, and included Planned Parenthood, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Indiana National Organization of Women (INOW) and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (ICLU).

Kristi Barnett, one of the Indiana regional coordinators for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC), a ministry for post-abortive women, said, “Silent No More does not have an official position on this bill; however, my comments reflect my experience as a post-abortive woman and the wisdom gained from working with others healing from their abortions.”

Barnett, a member of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington, said, “One of the most important components of this bill is the clause that requires the mother be informed that life begins at fertilization. I have heard countless testimonies from women that were told it was simply ‘a clump of cells’ and not a real baby. Many of them have stated that if they had only known the truth that life begins at conception, they would not have chosen abortion. This aspect of the bill would effectively undermine the abortion industry’s deceitful tactic of denying the humanity of the baby.”

In 2003, the Indiana State Department of Health reported there were 11,458 abortions performed in Indiana. Mothers between the ages of 20 to 24 accounted for 35.7 percent or 4,087 abortions. Nearly 2,500 abortions, or 21.6 percent, involved mothers in the 25 to 29 age group.

Sixty-three percent of mothers in Indiana who had abortions were Caucasian, 27.4 percent were African American, 6.4 percent were Hispanic and 3.2 percent were mothers of unknown race. Nearly 80 percent of Indiana women who received abortions were not married.

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

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