INDIANAPOLIS – A bill that places new hurdles in front of a minor seeking an abortion passed out of the Indiana Senate Wednesday after a review of changes made in the House.
Senate Bill 404 would require that before a minor can have an abortion her parent, legal guardian or custodian accompanying the minor must give written consent, proof of identification and evidence of the relationship.
Under current Indiana law, anyone under 18 must have the consent of a parent, legal guardian or custodian to get an abortion. To avoid the parental consent provision, minors may seek a judicial bypass, putting the decision in a judge’s hands.
The bill would also require the courts to notify parents of the minor’s decision to pursue a judicial bypass unless the judge thinks that it is unsafe to do so. If notified, parents would be able to petition in court or appeal the court’s decision. The author of the bill, Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, said previously that this bill is an effort to strengthen parental rights.
Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, author of Senate Bill 404. The bill would include more parental involvement when minors seek abortions. Photo by Lucas Lloyd, TheStatehouseFile.com
The House made some changes such as allowing a physician to petition the court for waiver of parental notification. In addition, it is up to the judge’s discretion to notify the parents and give them the opportunity to participate in the hearing. The judge can decide not to notify the parents if it is in the child’s best interest.
Some Senate members did not support the bill.
Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, said that she doesn’t believe the bill will do anything to improve health care for women. Her main concern is the bill doesn’t do enough for foster children and victims of sex trafficking who would not have a parent to provide the written consent.
“What the bill says is the state cannot consent. However, they do have to allow her access to the judicial bypass procedure,” Houchin said, addressing Becker’s concerns.
“This bill makes no exception for teens in the state wardship who’ve been abused, who are pregnant due to rape, incest. There is no exception for them,” Becker said.
Houchin said she respectfully disagreed because the minor will still have access to the judicial bypass.
Despite concerns from Becker and other senators, the bill passed 31-10, with three Republicans voting in opposition. The bill will now go to the governor’s where he will decide if it becomes law.
Taylor Brown is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.