Supporting Pregnant Women ‘Not Germane’ to Abortion Bans, According to Indiana House (UPDATED)

UPDATE, April 2, 3:25 pm: Indianapolis Star statehouse reporter Mary Beth Schneider reports via Twitter that the bill passed 70 to 25.

Indiana’s SB 371 is an anti-choice bill that will change regulations on providing medication abortions in order to force the Lafayette Planned Parenthood to stop offering the procedure. When State Democrats attempted to add amendments to the bill, it became especially clear that anti-choice state legislators are far more interested in curbing safe abortion access than in assisting pregnant women.

The full state house was in session as SB 371 had its second reading, and Democrats took the opportunity to provide a number of amendments to the bill. Many, such as a penile ultrasound requirement, standards of care for erectile dysfunction drugs, and an amendment to make doctor’s offices that provide RU-486 rebuild themselves as surgical facilities, were proposed just to highlight the double standards applied to women’s reproductive care and were withdrawn or easily defeated.

Those amendments made a statement about the legislature’s unequal treatment of women. Meanwhile, the amendments that weren’t even put to a vote were telling of anti-choice politicians’ obsession with ending safe abortion access without providing resources for women who give birth.

Two amendments that could have provided huge advantages for women and girls who are faced with unexpected pregnancies were both dismissed by the house chair as “not germane” to the issue of abortion. The first would have required stronger equal pay laws to ensure women receive the same wages as men in similar positions. The second would have ensured that pregnant girls would not be forced out of school, either through shame or internal policies, while they waited to give birth. Both were blocked from full house votes when the legislature sustained the chair’s insistence that the amendments had nothing to do with a bill that would likely make it so that one area of the state has no abortion provider whatsoever.

Representative Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington), who proposed the equal pay amendment, argued that if lawmakers want to reduce the number of abortions in the state, they must strengthen the economic landscape for women. “The underlying bill is about reducing or eliminating abortion in Indiana,” Pierce argued on the floor regarding his amendment. “This is very germane. This bill would create economic conditions that would make women more likely to carry to term. It would do the things that would make it more likely that a woman would not chose abortion. It’s a little frustrating that the chair would consider that not germane to the bill.”

The economics of reproductive autonomy was an underlying theme for many of the proposed amendments. Pierce, Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie), and Rep. Terry Austin (D-Anderson) all repeatedly noted that by targeting just the Lafayette clinic and forcing it to stop offering medication abortions unless it invests massive financial resources into rebuilding itself as a surgical center, lower-income women will lose access to services that women with more resources and means can obtain by traveling somewhere else in the state or seeking out a private physician.

“We are creating a two-tiered system, one for low-income women and one for women of means,” testified Pierce.

Whereas the amendments proposed by Pierce and other Democrats were dismissed or voted down with little fanfare, the amendment offered by Austin drew significant attention. Telling an emotional story of going to high school with her own mother, who returned to finish her education after being forced to leave school when she became pregnant as a teen decades earlier, Austin proposed an amendment that would forbid all Indiana schools from discriminating against pregnant girls with either internal policies or social pressure to coerce her into withdrawing.

Reading from two different school policy guides, Austin showed how little protection there is for a pregnant teen girl who wants to continue her education uninterrupted. The public school guide she read from required that girls submit information about their pregnancy, including due date, to the school nurse, who gets to decide whether pregnant teens can stay in school. The private school guide she read from was even more rigid: Teens are required to identify the potential father, so both of them can publicly confess to their “sin” of premarital sex or else be thrown out of the school.

Austin’s amendment, which would require any public or private school that accepts vouchers to let pregnant teens stay in school, was also declared “not germane” by the chair, whose objection was sustained by the house. The move allowed the legislature to avoid going on the record as to whether or not each representative truly believes that a pregnant teen should be shamed or kicked out of school for being pregnant.

If SB 371 does become law, that is likely to become a very relevant issue, whether the house GOP declares it germane or not.

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  • Amorette

    Abortion has always been an economic issue. Rich women get them. Poor women bear cannon fodder and low income workers.

  • jen

    The next time someone wants to talk about restrictions to emergency contraception and abortion… I want people to start talking about all of the ‘Casey Anthony’ types of tragedies that this nation has. I want people to acknowledge and extend a little compassion…even gratitude to the, small number, of Women that have enough strength to admit that they SHOULDN’T be parents. I have heard it said that crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. This one, DOES! I am not someone who would be described as a ‘Good Mother’.. I would appreciate if you would keep your opinions out of my right to determine and control preventing pregnancy! Thanks!!

    • Sarah ES

      Precisely right. Why is it said that, “Some people just shouldn’t be parents,” only after the misfortune has taken place? When someone has the good sense not to cave into societal/peer pressure on such an important issue, they are told, “Oh, come on, you don’t mean that. You’re going to change your mind.” Women, in particular, are told this. I have changed my mind, but so what? It was MY decision to make. Not my parents’ decision, not “society’s” decision, whatever that even means. I am an individual woman. What works for one woman may not work for another. In fact, scratch out woman, and make it “person.” Why do these misogynist politicians think we’re all the same?

  • cjvg

    “We are creating a two-tiered system, one for low-income women and one for women of means,” testified Pierce.

    it would have been so much more accurate and to the point if he had said :” We are creating a two-tiered system, one for low-income women and one for YOUR wives, daughters and mistress'”

  • Ella Warnock

    Only a completely disconnected anti-choicer could actually propose that making life a little easier for women and children isn’t germane to abortion. With a straight face. There really are a lot of people out there who hate women, aren’t there?

  • Sarah ES

    Tell me how, exactly, this isn’t a war on women? They understand exactly how equal pay and discrimination against pregnant teens affect girls and women and, hence, the issue of abortion.

    By refusing to even have a meaningful dialogue about it, they may get away with this. No wonder our system is failing. It demands adults to run it, and we are reckoning with children.

    • jen

      Well said!! And I am so grateful for your words… I for one don’t like having to justify my right to ‘choice’, when there isn’t a soul alive who would approve me as a foster or adoptive parent! (Y) Not with my emotional and behavioral history.

    • jen

      This is about ONE thing and ONE thing only.. Money. There is no opposition to ‘EC’, there is opposition to ‘coverage’. These refusals are coming from chains that advertise, market, and profit off them, They are denying women who are covered unless they pay cash! The only opposition to abortion that these zealots have is that it would be one less mouse to run on the treadmill and power their ‘car garage’!
      There has always been abortion, without shame, for the wealthier who have private coverage. They call it a ‘D n’ C’. It’s ordered and performed as any other service would be.

  • Ang Leisure

    There has always been a two tiered standard of medical care for women. Poor women get squat, Wealthy women get to be treated for whatever, and survive.

    The life expectancy difference between low income, and top income levels is an embarrassment to any ‘so-called’ civilized society.

    This crap won’t stop abortions. It won’t make more women become brood mares for the next generation of minimum wage laborers that the top 1% need to keep their lifestyles up to par, It will Kill women. It will make more women take horrible risks, and If they are lucky, they will survive, scarred and sterile. It will kill babies, It will leave more children without parents, and place a greater burden on government and foster care, which, will result in more dead children as the inspections, and test requirements for fostering are complete shit in this state. So, more foster parents will kill more orphan children, who were made orphans because their mother died from unsafe pregnancy termination attempts.

    This has far less to do with abortion, and far more to do with keeping an entire gender in a status of second class citizenship forever.

    • jen