Ind. Senate Approves New Restrictions on Clinics That Provide Medication Abortion

February 27, 2013 — The Indiana Senate on Tuesday voted 33-16 to approve a bill (SB 371) that would tighten restrictions on clinics that provide medication abortion and require physicians to perform ultrasounds on women before prescribing them the drugs, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.

Additionally, the bill would require clinics that offer medication abortion but not surgical abortion to adhere to the same standards as facilities that perform the surgical procedure. According to the AP/U-T San Diego, only one clinic -- a Planned Parenthood facility in Lafayette, Ind. -- would be affected. Physician offices that offer medication abortion would be exempt from the regulations.

As initially proposed, state Sen. Travis Holdman's (R) bill would have required women to undergo a second ultrasound during a follow-up visit; however, senators on Monday voted to remove that provision (Davies, AP/U-T San Diego, 2/26).

The bill now heads to the state House -- which, like the Senate, is controlled by a Republican super majority. Gov. Mike Pence (R), who opposes abortion rights, is expected to approve the bill if it reaches his desk.

Potential Impact

Although the bill does not specify what type of ultrasound would be required, opponents said it would require women seeking medication abortion to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds because that is the only exam capable of providing the information required under the bill in the early stages of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum said the licensing requirements could force the group's medication abortion clinic in Lafayette to close. She noted that making the facility adhere to surgical standards would not improve patient safety. The measure is about "politics, pure and simple," she said (Guyett, Reuters, 2/26).