By Taylor Brown and Lucas Lloyd
INDIANAPOLIS – Both the House and the Senate are advancing bills that reignite debate over the limits that can be placed on abortion.
In the House, legislators passed a bill that would make doctors provide a form containing information that a chemical abortion might be reversible.
House Bill 1128 passed 54-41 even though there is no scientific evidence proving the reversal works or is safe to the women seeking the procedure. Seventeen Republicans joined 24 Democrats in voting against the bill.
“The only certainty is confusion,” Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove, said.
Kirchhofer said it is irresponsible to give women information when it is not certain it will work and is not scientifically proven. While Kirchhofer said she sees the good intention of giving women more information and possibly saving a life, she does not like forcing doctors to provide unproven information to patients who trust them.
The bill would require doctors to provide a form with contact information for medical professionals who can aid in the reversal procedure as well as medical professionals who do not think the procedure is safe. The form is also required to state, “no scientifically validated medical study confirms that an abortion may be reversed after taking abortion-inducing drugs.”
Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said Hoosiers have the right to the procedure despite lack of scientific evidence because of Indiana’s Right to Try law.
The law allows any individual who consents to receive any experimental or nonconventional medical treatment if a licensed physician has personally examined and agrees to treat the individual.
“To me we’re just saying you have the right to try. We are not saying it’s going to work. The Right to Try revolves around nothing’s guaranteed, but if you want to try in Indiana you can,” Smaltz said.
Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, said that Smaltz was misrepresenting the legislation.
“The piece of legislation was about terminally ill people and hopeful drugs that they could take to keep them keep them alive. We’re talking about apples and you’re on corn,” Summers said.
Kirchhofer said she received a survey from a concerned citizen urging her to help legislators stay away from social issues. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said that social issues aren’t going away in a state that is strongly pro-life.
“Feelings are going to run strong for those who believe that a woman has a right to choose and those who believe that the baby has constitutional rights and should be protected,” Bosma said. “Those who said let’s just take a break on social issues, our society isn’t going to take a break on those social issues.”
Across the Statehouse, the Senate is moving forward on a bill that would require the guardian of the minor seeking an abortion to provide identification proving their relationship to the minor. Under Senate Bill 404, a birth certificate or court order are examples of what would serve as proof.
If the guardian refuses consent, the minor would then have to go to a judge. Currently the minor, her attorney, her doctor and the juvenile court judge decide whether she is mature enough to decide on abortion. The bill would give parents a voice in that hearing.
Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, proposed an amendment to SB 404 to strengthen the rights of the legal guardian over a minor who wants to get an abortion. The amendment passed by voice vote.
If the legal guardians do not approve the abortion, then the minor would have to go to a judge to over-ride the need of parental consent. And if the minor decides to go to court, the parents or guardians must be notified.
Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said she is concerned with notifying parents about their minor’s desire to get an abortion by publishing a notice about it.
“Just exactly how would you think that a notice by publication is going to read that will put somebody on notice but will also keep a minor’s medical history safe,” said Tallian, arguing that would possibly violate the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA.
Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, in response to Tallian’s concerns, said, “I would put a notice saying would parent or legal guardian, such and such, there is a confidential court hearing regarding a minor that this person has custody of and the hearing takes place on this date at this court.”
The petition to waive parental consent has to be filed no later than 30 days before the fetus reaches 20 weeks.
The Senate will consider the bill for a vote.
Taylor Brown and Lucas Lloyd are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.