State legislators’ refusal to allow science and reason to govern medical care for Hoosier women sounds like an April Fools’ Day hoax gone wrong. But their recent move in adopting one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation and forcing doctors to mislead woman is no joke.
On Wednesday, House Bill 1210 passed 72-23. The legislation makes it illegal for women to have an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is at risk. It also requires women to get a fetal ultrasound or opt out in writing and compels doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital in the county or in a contiguous county to the county where the abortion is performed.
Current law allows an abortion until the fetus has reached viability, with a doctor making the determination. Typically, viability is about 24 weeks; 97 percent of abortions in Indiana happen before 13 weeks.
Area Republican House members supported the measure. Democrats Phil GiaQuinta and Win Moses opposed it.
The most egregious component of the bill is that it requires doctors to give women legislator-prescribed information before having an abortion – some of which is not supported by research. Doctors must tell women that a fetus can feel pain and that having an abortion might increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
In February, a similar bill, SB 328, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, passed 39-9, making it likely that some form of the legislation will make it to Gov. Mitch Daniels.
The House bill’s author, Republican Eric Turner of Cicero, said the legislation will make Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the United States.
Hoosiers should be especially angered by comments made by legislators while debating the bill. Republican lawmakers trampled numerous efforts – even from pro-life Democrats – to make the bill reasonable and consistent with research.
They crushed an amendment by Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville, to exempt women who became pregnant through rape or incest, or women whose pregnancy threatens their life or could cause serious and irreversible physical harm.
Turner said it would open a giant loophole because women could lie about being raped. The misogynistic assertion prompted an indignant response by Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, who worked for six years as a sex crimes investigator for the Hammond police.
Women don’t make this up! My goodness! This is not some kind of crazy Third World country. These are women who live in this state! she said.
Turner apologized later.
Republicans defeated an amendment requiring women to be given objective, scientific information on abortion. Legislators also rejected a proposal from Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, to remove the warning linking abortions and breast cancer because that assertion is not supported by medical research. Welch was one of only five Democrats among the 51 co-sponsors of the bill. She is also a nurse.
She said, I support the bill, but I do not support the (breast cancer) language because it is not evidence-based.
Tellingly, the House’s lone physician, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, supported Welch’s defeated amendment.
The American Cancer Society’s website says, studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute, which has done extensive research, found an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.
Legislators who voted in favor of forcing doctors to mislead women should review the cancer institute’s report Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop. It’s available online at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/ere-workshop-report.
Decreasing abortions is a goal shared by many Hoosiers. Treating women with disrespect, then inventing medical complications and requiring medical professionals to provide erroneous information, is not the way to protect lives.