Senate committee approves tougher abortion regulations

By Emily Ketterer
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS—Legislation that would that would add more reporting and tracking requirements to Indiana’s abortion regulations passed a Senate committee Wednesday.

Among the provisions in the 12 pages of Senate Bill 340 are more inspections of abortion clinics, additions to informed consent forms patients must review and sign, and the reporting of complications to the Indiana Department of Health.

Those in opposition to the bill said the regulations are unnecessary while those in support saw them as a contribution to the safety of women.

Part of the bill mandates an annual inspection of abortion clinics and requires more information from those applying to open clinics. Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, one of the authors of the bill, said it’s important to know what is happening inside clinics.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, present Senate Bill 340 to the Judiciary Committee.
Photo by Kirsten Nielsen
TheStatehouseFile.com

“There’s that infamous abortion doctor in Philadelphia where women died,” Brown said. “We’d want to know if there’s a physician out there who is killing women because of surgical complications or administering medicine improperly.”

Lynne Bunch, the vice president of patient services at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the legislation is not about safety and the bill would eliminate the safe access to abortion.

“Decades of data also show abortion in the United States is one of the safest procedures in medicine,” Bunch said. “Please do not set up a system whereby the avenue to safe legal abortion is prevented with more hurdles and will eventually eliminate it.”

Christina Francis, an anti-abortion OB-GYN from Fort Wayne, said the complications that arise from abortions often go unreported, making informed consent difficult.

Christina Francis, an OB-GYN from Fort Wayne, discusses women’s health in favor of Senate Bill 340.
Photo by Kirsten Nielsen
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“Unfortunately, many abortion providers report a complication rate of zero or nearly zero, but this is only because many of them do not see their own complications,” Francis said. “Many women present themselves to a local emergency room, and their complications are not tied back to their abortions.”

Sue Swayze of Indiana Right to Life said they have been working for years to get regulations on reporting complications.

SB 340 identifies by name 27 possible complications that the bill says can be linked back to abortions. The bill adds a number of questions that must be asked of patients who show up in hospital with any of the complications, which must be reported to the health department.

Haylee Brannon, who had an abortion, said the list of psychological and physical complications to report is meant to shame women who have had one.

Haylee Brannon shares her abortion story and opposition to Senate Bill 340.
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“I would have reported how mentally and emotionally exhausting it was to jump through so many hoops in order to obtain a procedure I knew I was certain I wanted and I knew was 99 percent safe,” Brannon said. “I would have reported that the only trauma I endured was from pulling into clinic lined with protestors waving posters of dead babies.”

Another provision expands informed consent, requiring physicians to tell women of alternatives such as the Safe Haven law. This law allows a person to anonymously surrender an infant to an emergency services establishment without risk of arrest or prosecution.

Physicians must also provide all information about the medication before prescribing an abortion-inducing drug, which is more commonly used today.

Swayze said the drug regulation is important because it is currently not as regulated and women are four times more likely to experience a complication if they take an abortion-inducing pill.

“I don’t want them to not understand the chemical activity that is going to be happening in their body,” Swayze said.

The bill passed in a 6-1 vote. Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, was the only member in opposition to the bill. He said the bill is unconstitutional and takes away the right of women to choose.

“This is nothing but big brother state government sticking their nose into an area of a person’s life where they have no business knowing about,” Lanane said.

Emily Ketterer is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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