February 15, 2008

Informed consent, fetal curriculum bills pass Senate

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

As the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade continues at the national level, states are enacting laws which may reduce the number of abortions simply by better educating those women seeking them.

Two bills aimed at curbing abortions in Indiana, the informed consent bill and the fetal curriculum bill, passed the Senate on Jan. 29, and are being considered in the Indiana House of Representatives.

Sen. Patricia L. Miller, (R-Indianapolis) author of Senate Bill 146—known as the informed consent bill—said, “The bill provides an important balance to current law.”

Sen. Miller explained that under current law when a woman seeks an abortion she is informed of the risks of carrying a child to term. However, the woman isn’t told about the risks of having an abortion.

“This bill would give balance because the woman would be given both the risks of having a baby and the risks of having an abortion,” Sen. Miller said.

“Another important aspect of Senate Bill 146 is the adoption language,” she added.

Under Senate Bill 146, as part of Indiana’s informed consent, women seeking abortion would be given adoption alternatives.

“I’m a very strong advocate on adoption; two of my grandchildren are adopted,” Sen. Miller said. “There are thousands of couples out there that would love to adopt a baby.”

Sen. Miller said she also included language in the bill that adoptive parents may cover some of the costs associated with carrying the baby to term, for example, costs of prenatal and neonatal care, childbirth and legal costs of the adoption.

“It’s important for people who are considering abortion to know that there are viable alternatives,” Sen. Miller said.

When asked what she thought would happen to the bill, Sen. Miller said, “I hope the House would pass the bill. We’ve worked really hard in the Senate to get the bill in a form that was acceptable. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support. This is a good, realistic approach. I certainly hope the House will pass the bill.”

Senate Bill 146 passed in the Senate by a 39-9 vote. Thirty-two Republicans and seven Democrats voted for the bill. Four of the Democrats supporting the bill are practicing Catholics.

The fetal development curriculum bill, Senate Bill 187, authored by Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield), takes a different approach toward informing Hoosiers about children in the womb. It does so before the woman is pregnant. Senate Bill 187 requires high school health courses to include curriculum on a baby’s development in the womb.

Elizabeth Kane, who volunteers as a sidewalk counselor at Indianapolis abortion centers, where she holds a large sign which reads “I regret my abortion,” said, “I’m very pleased that the Senate passed Senate Bill 146 and Senate Bill 187, and I hope the legislature continues to make the facts of abortion more readily available to all—especially women in a troubled pregnancy and our youth.”

In her years of experience on the front lines, Kane said, “The many women I’ve been blessed to help that were scheduled for an abortion in Indianapolis have this in common: They weren’t given truthful information about the development of their child or the risks they’d be exposed to in having an abortion.”

For example, a 24-year-old who Kane spoke with at an abortion center was told that her fetus was the size of a pea.

Kane told the girl that was not true and that she could see a picture of her baby on an ultrasound across the street at the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

“A few hours later, when we saw the child on the ultrasound screen at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, the baby was waving and sucking its thumb,” she said.

Kane, a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Carmel, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, said she hopes the Indiana House will pass these additions to the informed consent law and high school curriculum proposed in Senate Bill 146 and Senate Bill 187.

“I regret this information—as well as the 18-hour waiting period—was not in place when I chose to abort my child in Indianapolis in 1981,” she said. “If I had known the truth, I would have made a better choice for myself and my child.

“If the pro-choicers really want to reduce abortions, they wouldn’t fight so hard to keep the truth from being available,” Kane said. “We must keep pushing to make the truth accessible.”

Senate Bill 146 and Senate Bill 187 have yet to be assigned to a House committee. Once assigned to a committee, the committee chair will decide if the bill will get a hearing.

If granted a hearing, the bills must pass out of committee, and pass second reading and third reading in the House.

If either of the bills is amended in the House, they must return to the Senate for concurrence before they could go to the governor’s desk.

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

Abortion statistics in Indiana

The most current abortion statistics available in Indiana are for the 2005 calendar year.

In 2005, the Indiana State Department of Health reported that there were 10,224 abortions performed in Indiana compared to 10,514 in 2004 and 11,458 in 2003.

More than 3,500 of the women who received abortions were in the 20-24 age group. This age group constituted the highest number of abortions, followed by 2,368 abortions for women in the

25-29 age group and 1,455 abortions for women in the 30-34 age group. In the 18-19 age group, 1,119 women had abortions.

For a detailed list of abortion statistics in Indiana, log on to the Indiana State Department of Health’s Web page at www.in.gov/isdh/. Click on Data and Statistics then click on Induced Terminated Pregnancies.

Glenn Tebbe, Indiana Catholic Conference executive director, testified in support of both Senate Bill 146 and Senate Bill 187 on behalf of the Church in January.

To view the Indiana Catholic Conference’s position papers on both Senate Bill 146 and Senate Bill 187, log on to www.indianacc.org. Click the Public Policy Priorities’ button on the left, then scroll down to ICC Position Statements. †

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