INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A requirement that clinics offering the
abortion pill perform ultrasounds on women seeking the drug was dropped
Wednesday by Indiana legislators considering a broader bill aimed at
tightening regulations on such clinics.
groups are going along with the change after the ultrasound requirement
drew attention with doctors affiliated with Planned Parenthood. They said
it would have essentially forced women seeking the drug to undergo an
invasive transvaginal procedure because the abortion pill is given early
on in pregnancy, when the embryo or fetus is too small for an abdominal
ultrasound to detect.
Abortion-rights supporters welcomed the change made by the Indiana House
Public Policy Committee, but continue fighting provisions that would force
clinics that provide only drug-induced abortions to meet the same facility
requirements as clinics that perform surgical abortions.
voted 8-5 to advance the bill to the Republican-dominated House.
to Life President Mike Fichter said the group agreed to drop the
ultrasound requirement because debate over it before the bill passed the
state Senate last month had taken focus away from its goal of tightening
the abortion pill regulations.
point of the legislation was bringing regulation to the use of a dangerous
abortion drug in Indiana, and after the Senate hearing too much focus
shifted over to the ultrasound side of things," Fichter said after
provisions in the bill would prohibit the abortion drugs from being given
to a woman more than nine weeks pregnant unless federal regulations
approve it for use after that time. It also would require clinics to
provide information on the dangers of abortion-causing drugs and offer
women the option of viewing an ultrasound or hearing the fetal heart tone.
the bill focused much of their criticism at its requirements that all
clinics meet the same facility standards as sites providing surgical
abortions. Doctor's offices would be exempt from the provisions, even if
those physicians sometimes prescribe abortion pills, and opponents and
supporters said those requirements would affect only one clinic — a
Planned Parenthood facility in Lafayette.
abortion clinics are currently licensed in Indiana, including three run by
Planned Parenthood, according to state records.
Liz Carroll, a
vice president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, disputed arguments that
the Lafayette clinic is unregulated, saying its staff had to follow the
same state laws on informed consent and waiting periods as those clinics
performing surgical abortions and comply with state and federal laws that
cover doctor's offices.
the proposal would force the Lafayette clinic to follow rules such as the
size of procedure and recovery rooms even though its only abortion service
consists of doctors providing pills.
She said that
"seems to us to be unnecessary and expensive regulation that does not
further a patient's safety."
If the bill
becomes law, Planned Parenthood will continue providing services such as
birth control and screenings for cancer and for sexually transmitted
diseases at the Lafayette clinic, but will have to review whether it can
afford a remodeling project to continue providing the abortion pill,
Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, joined the committee's four Democrats in voting
against the bill. Eberhart said he agreed with 90 percent of the bill but
questioned whether the state should extend surgical facility requirements
to the Lafayette clinic but not doctor's offices. The other eight
committee Republicans supported the bill.
Indiana Right to Life leader, said state law needed to keep up the trend
toward drug-induced rather than surgical abortions.
show that 4 percent of Indiana's 10,514 abortions in 2004 were
drug-induced, growing to 18 percent of 9,112 abortions in 2011.
already have the same clinic regulations for those providing medical or
surgical abortions, with Indiana among six states with current regulations
only on surgical abortion sites, according to the New York-based
Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group that does research on reproductive
he hoped the tougher state regulations would discourage the opening of
more clinics offering the abortion pill.
remains wide open under current Indiana law for any abortion business to
come to Indiana and do chemical abortions anywhere it wishes," he said.