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Controversial Ind. bill tightens abortion regulations

By Colleen Sikorski and Jaclyn Lansbery

For the second time this year, an Indiana law, if passed, would set stricter requirements for abortions.

On March 29, Indiana Republicans voted in favor of House Bill 1210, which, if passed, would require physicians to inform women who intend to get an abortion about the subsequent risks of breast cancer and would cut back the date of viability for the fetus to 20 weeks.

The bill, exempting victims of rape and incest, was authored by Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero. It would also require women to view an ultrasound of the fetus unless they specify otherwise in writing.

“It’s a 30-page bill that gives some pretty serious invasions to women’s health choices,” said Betty Cockrum, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

Senate Bill 328  — passed in February — lengthened the abortion process by ordering physicians to “specify certain notices” about abortion 18 hours before the procedure, according to the Indiana General Assembly website.

The biggest controversy of HB 1210, however, is that doctors must articulate to women who intend to get abortions that they are at a higher risk of breast cancer — a theory that has been debunked, Susan Tanner, co-president of the Feminist Law Forum at Maurer School of Law, said.

“It’s a male legislator-driven effort where lawmakers who have no background are writing a script, butting into Indiana law language that isn’t medically accurate and requiring a doctor to share with patients a myth,” Cockrum said.

Tanner said doctors should inform patients of the procedure but that informing women of the breast cancer risk has an underlying political agenda.

“Medicine and science often advance a lot faster than politics do,” Tanner said. “So by the time something new is learned in the medical community, if it’s something that’s mandated by a bill, the two won’t be able to keep up. That was the most despicable thing about the bill because you are really mandating misinformation.”

The bill also exempts rape and incest victims since it poses “a giant loophole with that suggestion because women apparently lie about rape and incest,” Cockrum said.

“That becomes especially contentious for pro-choice proponents,” Tanner said. “Pro-lifers tend to say it’s about the fetus, whereas pro-choice people say it’s about a woman’s choice, especially rape.”

CEO and President of Indiana Right to Life Mike Fichter said on the organization’s website that the new bill represents the majority of Hoosiers’ views of abortion.
The bill will be officially enacted if it passes in the Senate in the following weeks.

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