After a short and unsurprising debate, the Indiana Senate voted 33 to 16 to pass a bill that will force all clinics that provide RU-486 for early abortions to become licensed surgical abortion facilities, regardless of whether or not they offer surgical abortions. The amended bill was stripped of the original requirement that anyone who undergoes a medication abortion must return 14 days after the appointment and have a forced and unnecessary vaginal ultrasound performed as part of follow-up care. However, the proposed facility changes necessary in the bill would still be enough to close down the Planned Parenthood Lafayette Clinic, the only place in the state that offers only medication and not surgical abortions.
Republican Senator Vaneta Becker continued to express concerns that the bill would drive women to purchase unsafe drugs off the internet in an attempt to induce their own abortions if the clinic closed, and argued that if the measure really was meant to protect a woman’s safety that the regulations should apply to all doctors who offer RU-486, not just the clinic. “‘When you do this you are not doing anything to improve the health and safety’ of women,” Becker said, according to reporter Mary Beth Schneider of the IndyStar. “This bill is not about patient safety; it’s about patient harassment.”
“This bill is about politics, not women’s health and safety. It is part of a calculated and out-of-touch attempt – being pushed forward by the state legislature – to limit a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion in Indiana,” said Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Indiana. “Hoosiers are counting on our legislators to show real leadership by defeating this latest attack on women’s health. They need to focus instead on growing good jobs and ensuring women’s access to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic, preventive health care.”
SB 371 will now head to the House, where it is sponsored by Rep. Sharon Negele, who has been endorsed by Indiana Right to Life.
As of yet a committee hearing has not been scheduled.