On March 24th, Governor Pence signed HEA 1337, what has become known as the “abortion bill”, into law. My aim here is to tell you clearly and concisely what the law does, why it’s a problem, and how you can help.
What the Law Does
If you have the time, the bill is available to read in its entirety here. (Full disclosure: I read over the first part that explains what the bill does, but skipped over where the terms are defined at the end. It was not as difficult to understand as I thought it would be.)
This bill, among other things:
- Requires that medical facilities where an abortion or a miscarriage takes place discard the tissue through burial or cremation. The fetus may not be discarded as medical waste. It does not require women who miscarry at home to bury or cremate the miscarriage.
- Requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital (although I think this was already a requirement before the bill was passed).
- Prohibits health care providers from performing abortions if they believe the woman wants the procedure “solely because of the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.”
- Does not prohibit abortions when the fetus has “a lethal fetal anomaly”, which means it is unlikely to survive more than three months after birth. It also does not prohibit abortions simply because a woman does not want to have a child.
- Requires that an examination be performed on the aborted fetus to determine information such as sex, race, and whether the fetus had or might have developed Down syndrome or other disabilities. This information is to be collected in a report and sent to the state.
- Requires physicians to inform a women 18 hours before an abortion procedure of the size of the fetus, when it can feel pain, and that life begins at conception. They must also offer the woman ultrasound imaging of the fetus, though she has the right to refuse.
Why It’s a Problem
This bill is designed to make it nearly impossible for physicians to perform abortions in the state of Indiana. It does this by:
- Making the cost of performing the procedure prohibitive. The new requirements for the disposal of fetal tissue and getting admitting privileges to a hospital are both very expensive.
- Making the language of the bill purposefully vague. How will law enforcement know whether a fetus was aborted because of a possible disability or simply because a woman didn’t want to have a child? Remember even the possibility of developing a disability must be reported to the state. Law enforcement may launch an investigation based on this information alone. Legal fees in such instances would be expensive.
This bill threatens the health and safety of Indiana women because:
- It dictates what a physician must tell a woman considering an abortion based on the moral beliefs of our legislators, not on medical fact.
- Since women must be informed of certain facts 18 hours before the procedure, getting an abortion requires a second visit. This puts more financial strain on women who must miss work and pay medical fees for the extra visit. It also prolongs the emotional suffering of women who are terminating pregnancies they very much wanted but are unable or unwilling to carry to term for medical reasons.
- It restricts free and open dialogue between a woman and her physician. Women might be hesitant to discuss options with their healthcare provider for fear the physician could infer that terminating the pregnancy would violate this law. It is it up to the physician to determine the woman’s intent.
- Since guilt is determined on the woman’s inferred intent, there is no way to prove this law wasn’t violated unless the physician does not inform the woman of certain medical facts – sex, race, disability, etc. While I doubt any self-respecting physician would do this, the fact remains that the only way to be safe from this law is to withhold medical information from pregnant women.
- Since the financial strain of this law will cause many clinics to close, it may become impossible to obtain an abortion in the state of Indiana, forcing women who need the procedure to travel outside state lines to obtain it. This will particularly affect low-income women who may not have the funds to travel to get an abortion, even when it is medically necessary to do so.
How You Can Help
- Talk about this law on social media. Share this post or other articles that explain why this law is dangerous for women. Everyone wants to decrease the number of abortions performed, but the way to do so is by educating and empowering women to take control of their health. This law does the opposite.
- Write to Governor Pence to express your concerns. If you are unsure what to say, you are welcome to copy any of this post verbatim. However, he may be more likely to respond to a personal story rather than a list of facts.
Address: 200 W. Washington St., Rm. 206, Indianapolis, IN 46204
To send an email: http://www.in.gov/gov/2333.htm
- Write to your local representatives to express your concerns. If you don’t know who your representatives are, go here. To find out how your representative voted in the bill, go here. Again, if you are unsure what to say, you are welcome to copy any of this post verbatim, but they may be more likely to respond to a personal story.
If you have any questions or need clarification, feel free to comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have no legal education, but I’ll do my best to answer your questions.