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Tighter abortion pill rules head to Ind. governor

A bill that would tighten Indiana's regulations on distribution of the abortion pill won final legislative approval Thursday.

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on April 11, 2013 at 6:36 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that would tighten Indiana’s regulations on distribution of the abortion pill and on the clinics that provide only drug-induced abortions won final legislative approval Thursday and is headed to Republican Gov. Mike Pence.

The state Senate voted 35-14 to agree with a version of the bill that the House approved last week. Pence has said he supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law.

The bill would require clinics that provide only drug-induced abortions to meet the same facility standards as clinics that perform surgical abortions. Opponents say the additional standards are unnecessary and are aimed at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette, which is the state’s only non-surgical abortion site.

Bill sponsor Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said the measure’s primary focus was to have drug-induced abortions fall under the same state regulations as surgical abortions.

“There are those of us who believe for a woman’s safety we need to be doing that,” Holdman said.

Senate opponents to the bill argued that the new regulations would unfairly target poor women and are meant to complicate women’s personal health decisions.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana officials have said the additional standards would force the Lafayette clinic to follow rules such as ensuring that procedure and recovery rooms are the right size, even though its only abortion service consists of doctors providing pills. Women take the pill at the office, then leave and let the drugs take effect.

Supporters of the bill said the Lafayette clinic still could continue offering services such as birth control and screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

“They don’t have to close,” said Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis. “They don’t provide this drug, they stay open and they continue to provide services.”

Planned Parenthood also has said if the bill becomes law, it would keep the Lafayette clinic open, but would have to review whether it can afford a remodeling project to continue distributing the abortion pill.

Nine surgical abortion clinics are currently licensed in Indiana, including three run by Planned Parenthood, according to state records.

An Indiana House last month dropped earlier provisions the Senate had backed aimed at having doctors perform two ultrasounds on women seeking the abortion drugs. Planned Parenthood said its doctors perform ultrasounds before abortions, but opposed mandating medical procedures by law.

Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, said she believed the bill’s new restrictions on abortion pill distribution will end up with more women buying it online and without being under a doctor’s care.

“What this bill will do is encourage women, low-income women in particular, to go to the Internet where they can avoid all of this,” Becker said.

Becker was among three Republicans who joined 11 Democrats in voting against the bill.

Other provisions in the measure would prohibit the abortion drugs from being given to a woman more than nine weeks pregnant unless federal regulators in the future 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 heartbeat.




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