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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ind. Law - "A clinic that dispenses an abortion-inducing drug would have to meet the same requirements as a surgical clinic" [Updated]

That would be the requirement under a bill that passed out of Senate committee this morning. Mary Beth Schneider of the IndyStar has just posted the story here, although the ILB has been following and retweeting her tweets this morning. Some quotes:

Senate Bill 371 — which passed 7-5 and is now on its way to the full Senate for debate — also requires women getting the pill RU486 to first undergo an ultrasound. Dr. John Stutsman, an Indiana University School of Medicine professor and an ob-gyn physician, said that “most likely” would require an “invasive” ultrasound that would involve a probe being placed in the woman’s vagina.

The bill threatens a Planned Parenthood of Indiana clinic in Lafayette. Of Planned Parenthood’s four clinics that perform abortions, it is the only one that does not do surgical abortions and instead administers the abortion drug RU486.

That means the clinic — though not any physician’s office that also prescribes RU486 — would have to have surgical equipment, sterilization equipment, anethesiology, and specific room and hallway sizes.

Sen. Travis Holdman, the Markle Republican who authored the bill, said the measure is intended to ensure women’s safety. And supporters of the bill, including Indiana Right to Life, argued that the abortion induced by a drug is more dangerous than a surgical abortion — something opponents of the bill disputed. * * *

The committee also passed Senate Bill 489, authored by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, which among other things mandates that the clinics give women the already-required informed consent form, including illustrations, in color and not in black and white. The bill also removes a provision in state law that requires women to listen to the fetal heart beat.

[Updated 2/21/13] Here is Mary Beth Schneider's lengthy, updated version of the story in today's Indianapolis Star. Some quotes:
Senate Bill 371, which also would require any clinic that dispenses the drug — known as RU-486 — to meet the same requirements as a clinic that performs surgical abortions, though physicians’ offices would be exempt.

Those requirements, opponents say, potentially would force the Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette to close. That clinic offers the abortion pill but does not perform surgical abortions. If the bill passes, the clinic would have to widen hallways and doorways to meet state specifications for surgery and install anesthesia, surgical and sterilization equipment.

Sen. Travis Holdman, the Markle Republican who authored the bill, said the measure is intended to ensure women’s safety. Pushing back against senators who questioned why the heightened standards applied only to RU-486 and not to other prescription medicines dispensed in clinics, Holdman said abortion is different.

It involves “another human life,” he said.

But opponents of the bill said it jeopardizes the lives of Hoosier women by making the drug harder to get, leading some to get unsafe drugs off the Internet. * * *

Dr. Sue Ellen Braunlin, an anesthesiologist, called the bill “a fraud.”

“It creates a health risk in a nearly risk-free treatment, and it does so to exert social control.”

The front-page headline to this AP story by Tom Davies in the Lafayette Journal-Courier this morning is "Lafayette clinic in spotlight as bill for tougher abortion pill law advances in Indiana Senate." Some quotes:
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana clinics that provide only abortion drugs would face the same requirements as those where surgical abortions are performed under a proposal approved Wednesday by a state legislative committee.

Dr. John Stutsman, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said a clinic the group operates in Lafayette is believed to be the only location that would be affected by the regulation changes.

The bill approved by the Senate’s health committee in a 7-5 vote would also require doctors to have ultrasound examinations conducted on women before providing any drugs to cause abortions.

The provisions covering clinics that provide abortion pills would require them to have surgery facilities and equipment and resuscitation equipment, such as defibrillators, even if surgical abortions aren’t conducted there. The bill exempts physician offices from any extra regulations even if those doctors sometimes prescribe abortion pills. * * *

Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville joined committee Democrats in questioning how the additional clinic restrictions would benefit health care for women.

“We have a billion-dollar surplus and we’re not doing anything to increase funding for mental health, we aren’t doing anything to increase funding for more care for low-income women,” Becker said. “This bill definitely limits access to safe and affordable health care for low-income women.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 20, 2013 02:12 PM
Posted to Indiana Law