March 3, 2006

Amended informed consent bill
advances in Senate

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

Insufficient time and conflicting testimony from the medical community caused state Senate leaders to substantially amend an informed consent bill which was designed to curb abortion in Indiana.

House Bill 1172, as written and passed in the Indiana House, would have required that before an abortion, women would be given information that the fetus may feel pain, and that after 20 weeks an anesthetic for the fetus may be available. It also would have changed the informed consent statute to require written information about adoption alternatives, physical risks concerning abortion and included the statement that life begins at fertilization.

Because of conflicting testimony regarding fetal pain and the serious objection from some in the religious and medical community regarding the statement that life begins at fertilization, Sen. Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis), chair of the Senate Health Committee and Senate sponsor of the bill, said that she did not have time to adequately address these issues.

While Miller said during the Senate hearing that she was supportive of the bill’s concepts, the senator said in order to get the bill out of committee she would have to remove the pain, anesthetic and fertilization references.

Rep. Tim Harris (R-Marion), author of the bill, said, “I wasn’t surprised when Senator Miller told me ahead of time that she was going to drastically amend House Bill 1172 in order to get the bill out of committee because the Senate Health Committee is a tough committee to get pro-life legislation through.”

The bill requires that informed consent information be given to women in written form. Indiana’s current informed consent law does not specify the manner in which informed consent information is presented.

Miller offered an amendment in committee, changing another part of the informed consent language to include “that there are many couples who are willing and waiting to adopt a child.”

The intent of the amendment, which was unanimously approved by the Senate panel, is to reduce the number of abortions by promoting adoption. The amended version of House Bill 1172 now goes to the Senate floor, where it is expected to pass.

However, because of changes, Harris said he will dissent and House Bill 1172 will go to conference committee, where the bill’s final language will be worked out.

“We’ll have to wait and see how the bill comes out of the Senate, but I’m planning to have an amendment prepared to put back in the language that Senator Miller took out,” Harris said. “I’m convinced that the conference committee report will pass the Senate if we can just get it to the Senate floor.”

Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield), who is the Senate co-sponsor of House Bill 1172 and who, like Harris, will be a conferee when the bill goes to conference committee, said, “I’m very disappointed that this bill was drastically changed during the Senate Health Committee meeting, but the process of the bill going to conference committee still lends hope for some of the original language to be put back in.”

Drozda said the plan is to amend the bill in conference committee to include three things: 1) that life begins at fertilization; 2) that the baby may feel pain during the abortion; and 3) that pharmacists can follow their conscience by refusing to fill chemical abortion prescriptions.

“The biggest obstacle is getting the Senate Republicans to sign off on the conference committee report so that the bill can move to a vote on the Senate floor,” Drozda said. The senator explained that the fate of this bill lies in the hands of the Senate Republican caucus, who must approve the bill’s contents after it comes out of conference committee and before it moves to the Senate floor.

Drozda said that because of this, it is imperative that people contact their senator and ask him or her to support the conference committee report on House Bill 1172. “Once we get it to the Senate floor, it will pass.”

Since House Bill 1172 was amended in the Senate, the final outcome will likely be determined in conference committee this week. The Indiana General Assembly only has a few weeks remaining for legislative business as it must adjourn by March 14.

In 2003, the Indiana State Department of Health reported there were 11,458 abortions performed in Indiana. To view the full report of Indiana abortions from 1999 to 2003, go to the Indiana State Department of Health’s Web site at, click on data and statistics, then click on induced terminated pregnancies for abortion information. For more abortion facts, go to or visit the Silent No More Awareness Campaign’s Web site at

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


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