The Indiana state House approved an amendment to a bill in a 62 to 27 vote Monday requiring women seeking abortions to be notified of possible fetal pain. The bill would require doctors who perform abortions in the state to have hospital admitting privileges. The bill has already been passed by the state Senate, but similar measures have stalled in the state legislature in the past because they have passed the Senate, but not the House. In the House, the bill has been passed by the House Public Policy Committee.
The pain provision was added to a section of the bill that lists a range of information doctors would be required to tell patients 18 hours before an abortion procedure. This information also includes details, risks of, and alternatives to abortion; the “probable gestational age of the fetus”; and “the availability of fetal ultrasound imaging and auscultation of fetal heart tone services to enable the pregnant woman to view the image and hear the heartbeat of the fetus,” among other provisions.
Supporters of the ordinances claim they protect patient safety, but abortion providers and ordinance opponents say that these types of laws limit women’s legal access to abortion.
Anti-abortion groups in Indiana have been pushing similar ordinances at the county level as they continue to hit roadblocks in the state legislature. One of these ordinances was passed in Vanderburgh County, which has no abortion clinics, in August 2008. A similar ordinance is now being pushed in Allen County, where the Fort Wayne Women’s Health Organization clinic has been located since 1977. This clinic is one of only nine abortion providers in Indiana.