March 9, 2018

Bill to regulate Indiana abortion industry passes House

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

A bill aimed at updating regulations to keep up with the abortion industry in Indiana passed the Indiana House of Representatives on Feb. 28 by a 67-26 vote. The Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) supports the proposal.

Glenn Tebbe, ICC executive director who serves as the public policy spokesperson for the bishops in Indiana, said, “The state’s compelling interest in public health and safety and the health of the mother clearly justifies these changes and regulations regarding abortion facilities and reporting.”

Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, one of the sponsors of the bill, said on the House floor, “Senate Bill 340 would bring [Indiana] code up to date with current health practices. It sets timelines for rule‑making which were passed last year. It adds requirements for applications for abortion clinic licenses.”

The bill codifies Federal Drug Administration (FDA) requirements regarding the use of abortifacients. It codifies the collection of information on the termination of pregnancy reports, and it adds five new fields of information to be collected.

The new categories to be reported include: 1) parental consent verification for a minor who sought an abortion; 2) patients who reported abuse, coercion, harassment or trafficking; 3) the name of the second doctor present for abortions performed past 20 weeks of gestation; 4) that FDA labeling information and warnings were given to a patient; and 5) requires the patient to disclose any pre-existing conditions that may lead to complications from the abortion.

Under the bill, abortion facilities will have to be inspected annually, and information about Indiana’s Safe Haven law would be added to the informed consent brochure and Indiana State Department of Health website so that women are aware of the ways they can give up their baby anonymously after birth.

The language of the “baby box” bill, Senate Bill 123, was amended into Senate Bill 340. These provisions expand Indiana’s Safe Haven law by allowing newborn safety devices, commonly referred to as “baby boxes,” to be installed at fire stations that are staffed by emergency medical providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The boxes themselves must be located in conspicuous areas visible to the staff and have dual alarm systems tested at least monthly.

Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, voiced her opposition to the bill and questioned Mayfield during the floor debate. She asked her colleague about the safety of a tonsillectomy or a wisdom tooth extraction and compared the safety of these procedures with abortion.

Errington referred to a Guttmacher Institute study, a group that supports legal abortion, and said that having an abortion was safer than having a wisdom tooth pulled or having one’s tonsils removed. Errington, who retired from Planned Parenthood, calls abortion a “very safe procedure” for a woman to undergo.

Rep. Matthew Lehman, R-Berne, spoke in support of the bill. He said he believes things that could be available to the public could include collection of information on provisions like annual inspections, disclosure if an abortion operator has been convicted of a felony, or if the facility has been closed due to legal reasons. “I don’t think that is a big ask.”

He said if abortion-inducing drugs are going to be dispensed to patients, it should be required that the provider tell the patient the risks that are on the FDA label, which is done with other drugs.

Lehman added that it seems “we don’t want to lift the veil on this issue.” Yet he said the House recently discussed a bill requiring consent for students to bring sunscreen to school. “We regulate health. This is a health regulatory bill. This isn’t about wisdom teeth. This is potentially an invasive process. It’s a health issue.”

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, lectured his colleagues about repeatedly bringing bills forward which place an undue burden on a women’s constitutional right to abortion and cost to the state. He said the cycle of doing so ironically results in financial support for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which litigates the constitutionality of these types of bills.

Pierce urged his fellow lawmakers to put their energy into areas where they could find common ground, such as effective sex education, better contraception, affordable adoption and childcare services to make abortion a less common choice.

In her closing remarks, Mayfield stressed the need for Senate Bill 340, saying “the medication method [of abortion] is exploding.”

When the FDA initially approved abortion-inducing drugs, those were only to be used up to 49 days of gestation. The FDA has extended use up to 70 days, but did so with specific restrictions and warnings.

“We have identified at least 84 websites where you can get an abortion pill or an imitation abortion pill,” said Mayfield. “The FDA website says not to buy this online.

“The state is the only oversight body for the abortion procedure, but just like hospitals, women assume that abortion clinics are meeting established health standards,” she continued. “The public has a right to expect and the government has a duty and responsibility to provide regulation, and Senate Bill 340 provides this.”

Senate Bill 340 passed the Senate, but because it was amended in the House, now goes back to the Senate for approval of the House amendments.

For more information on the legislative efforts of the ICC, go to www.indianacc.org.
 

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

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