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Ind. Bill Would Ban Abortions Based on Sex of Fetus, Genetic Defects

Ind. Bill Would Ban Abortions Based on Sex of Fetus, Genetic Defects

January 15, 2015 — Indiana Sen. Travis Holdman (R) has proposed a bill (SB 334) that would ban abortions sought because of the sex of the fetus or the diagnosis or "potential diagnosis" of a genetic defect, the Indianapolis Star reports.

The legislation would make it a felony for a physician to perform an abortion in such instances.

According to the bill, the ban would apply when there is potential for a fetus to have any mental or physical "disease, defect or disability that is genetically inherited." The bill specifically mentions albinism, amelia, Down syndrome, dwarfism, scoliosis and any type of physical disfigurement.

Reaction

Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter said his organization supports the bill.

Meanwhile, Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, expressed concern about the scope of the ban, given that it would apply when there is a potential genetic defect.

She said, "Indiana is one of the most highly regulated, least accessible states in the country when it comes to abortion and reproductive health care," adding that some lawmakers opposed to abortion rights are "seek[ing] to erect barriers rather than seeking to reduce unintended pregnancy in the first place."

Cockrum added, "It seems to be that part of this discussion needs to be adequately funding special-needs kids and special-needs households."

A spokesperson for state Sen. Pat Miller (R), chair of the state Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, to which the bill has been assigned, said that Miller intended to talk to Holdman about the bill before deciding whether it would get a committee hearing.

Separate Bill Would Constrain Medical Advice

Meanwhile, state Rep. Ron Bacon (R) has proposed a separate measure (HB 1093) that would require review of information that providers give to families when a genetic defect has been identified in the fetus and prohibit those materials from presenting abortion "as a neutral or acceptable option" (Wang, Indianapolis Star, 1/13).