INDIANAPOLIS – All health care providers in Indiana could refuse to perform or assist in abortions - including dispensing drugs for a medication-assisted abortion - under a bill heard in the Senate Wednesday.
Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, said Indiana's conscience law already protects physicians, and her bill simply expands existing statute.
Pharmacists were mentioned specifically as professionals whom the legislation would allow to legally refuse service due to moral, ethical or religious objections.
Glenn Tebbe, director for the Indiana Catholic Conference, said in the past most abortions were surgical and performed in a clinic.
But in 2017, more than 2,800 abortions - or 36 percent - were via a prescribed drug combination. He said pharmacists need to have the option to refuse to dispense the drugs if it is against their beliefs.
Fort Wayne Dr. Andrew Mullally testified in support of Senate Bill 201 and mentioned a New Jersey nurse who was floated to another floor and after being forced to assist in one abortion was fired for refusing to do others.
"Physicians have enjoyed protections for some time," he said. "It's time for the whole team."
State law already covers employees or staff members of a hospital or abortion clinic.
Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, and Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, questioned the breadth of the bill. It covers all health care providers - from dentists and paramedics to occupational therapists and podiatrists.
"This is overkill," Leising said.