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New Abortion Rules, Lawsuits May Follow

Opponents of a new abortion bill say it threatens the health of Hoosier women. (cdc.gov)
Opponents of a new abortion bill say it threatens the health of Hoosier women. (cdc.gov)
March 29, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – An abortion law that goes into effect in Indiana this summer isn't sitting well with some, and the idea of a legal challenge is being tossed around.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who bills himself as pro-life, signed SEA 340 last weekend. It requires doctors to disclose the age, education, marital status and race of the woman who receives an abortion. It also keeps track of the number of abortions each patient has had.

Patti Stauffer, vice president for public policy at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, says it puts unnecessary restrictions into place and is government intrusion into the sacred relationship between doctors and their patients.

"Over and over again, the Indiana Legislature continues to try to practice medicine through the regulation of abortion and consistently treats the provision of abortion services differently than any other medical service," she laments.

If doctors don't follow the new reporting guidelines, they could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, face up to 180 days in prison, and be fined up to $1,000. Holcomb and other supporters of the legislation say it's a way to increase patient safety.

The law starts July 1, and impacts women who are suffering from potential "abortion complications," including serious physical ailments such as kidney failure, cardiac arrest, hemorrhaging and blood clots, but also psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.

Stauffer says the law isn't about safety because abortions have lower complication rates than many other standard procedures. She says it's about stigmatizing abortion, and lawmakers who quash reproductive rights are threatening the health of Hoosier women.

"Indiana is one of the most hostile states with regards to reproductive health services, and what that translates into is what we're seeing, is very significant increases in the number of sexually transmitted diseases as well," she explains.

The Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says it's reviewing the law and has not ruled out suing the state over it.

They've challenged other abortion laws in Indiana, including one signed by former Gov. Mike Pence that would prohibit women from getting an abortion due to a fetus's race, sex or diagnosis of disability. It also requires women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion and calls for the identities of abortion providers to be made public. It goes on to mandate that funerals be held for fetal remains.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN