A bill that would add more regulations for clinics performing abortions and for women receiving abortions passed Wednesday through an Indiana House of Representatives public policy committee.
The bill would require abortion clinics to report any complication arising from an abortion to the Indiana State Department of Health.
The bill would also require women to look at the drug manufacturer’s instruction sheets and sign the manufacturer’s patient agreement form. This would ensure that a patient knows potential side effects or complications before continuing with an abortion.
After various amendments were debated and voted on, Senate Bill 340 passed 9-4. It will now head to the full House for a vote. An amendment was added that inserted Senate Bill 123, a bill that would provide baby boxes at fire departments, into this abortion bill. The baby box bill was not getting a hearing in the judiciary committee, so it was implemented into Senate Bill 340, which was getting a hearing.
Another amendment changed the language of the type of brochure given from the state Department of Health to a patient getting an abortion.
Author of the bill Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, said in a Feb. 14 committee hearing the purpose of the bill is to update Indiana’s law, since it is not up to date with current healthcare practices.
Many abortions are done chemically or using a pill, Brown said.
“There is a reason to make sure the women who are taking this pill are notified of the complications and risks,” Brown said.
The bill would also require mandatory inspections of clinics to ensure that all clinics performing abortions meet the health standards they should, Brown said.
IU junior Jenna Fisher, president of Students for Life at IU, said in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student that although her ultimate goal is banning abortions completely, this bill is a step in the right direction.
“There is a lot of work yet to be done,” Fisher said.
She added this regulation promotes safety of women and informed consent. She said she believes everyone should be informed of what they’re getting themselves into before they decide to get an abortion.
Abortion rights advocates, however, argue the bill would actually do more to hinder women from getting an abortion rather than help them.
Patti Stauffer, vice president of policy at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, called the bill’s new requirements “unnecessary over-regulations.”
“It’s just another attempt at trying to reduce access to abortion,” Stauffer said.
“Are we disappointed? Absolutely,” Stauffer said. “I think there are a whole variety of other ways the legislature can be spending its time.”
Stauffer said a bill like this could create an environment where there are too many hoops to jump through to get an abortion. This could result in more time and energy being spent on paperwork or regulations instead of on patient quality of care.
She added this could result in the closure of facilities, denial of licenses to new facilities or denial of applications from a patient.
“We are extremely concerned with the cumulative effect of this hostile environment on functioning health centers,” Stauffer said.
Fisher said it’s time to drop the rhetoric that this bill would actually cause more problems for women trying to get an abortion. She said the bill promotes the safety and regulation of medical practices.
“If you are not for safety and information of women, than are you pro-choice?” Fisher said. “Are you pro-woman at all?”
Dr. Andrew Mullally, a family medicine physician in Fort Wayne, also testified last week. He said in his testimony that an abortion is a dangerous procedure, especially if it is a medicated abortion, such as a pill purchased online.
”One of the most disconcerting aspects of these medical abortions obtained online is the painfully absent lack of ongoing medical supervision throughout the abortion itself, both during the time when the patient is bleeding as well as while her body is trying to heal,” Mullally said.
Mullally also spoke in favor of requiring clinics to report any complications that may arise during an abortion. Having this data would help physicians and patients long-term, he said. Physicians need feedback to improve, he added.
Fisher said even though this is such a controversial topic, people should still be having a conversation about it.
“We need to work to promote civil discussion and civil dialogue on this topic,” Fisher said.
Stauffer encouraged anyone who may feel disheartened by this bill to speak out and continue mobilizing.
“A lot of times, out of frustration comes engagement and empowerment, and that is a place where I feel like we are right now,” Stauffer said.
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