Ind. House Panel Advances Medication Abortion Restrictions After Omitting Mandatory Ultrasound Provision

March 29, 2013 — The Indiana House Public Policy Committee on Wednesday voted 8-5 to advance a bill (SB 371) that would tighten restrictions on clinics that provide medication abortions, the Indianapolis Star reports.

The measure would require clinics that offer medication abortions but not surgical abortions to adhere to the same standards as facilities that perform the surgical procedure (Schneider, Indianapolis Star, 3/28). Doctors' offices that offer medication abortions would be exempt from the requirements.

Additionally, the bill would prohibit the provision of abortion-inducing drugs after nine weeks of pregnancy, unless federal regulations authorize use after that time. It also would require clinics to give women information about the risks of medication abortion and the option of viewing an ultrasound and listening to the fetal heartbeat.

Changes to Bill

Lawmakers removed a provision that would have required that physicians perform ultrasounds on women seeking medication abortions. Critics of the provision had argued that it would force women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds because that is the only method capable of detecting an embryo or fetus in the stages of pregnancy when medication abortion is used (AP/Jeffersonville News and Tribune, 3/27).

The committee also removed language that would have prohibited the state health department from waiving any building requirements for an abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood officials said some clinics have been operating under exemptions to 2005 state rules without any issues.

The provision was rewritten to allow existing exemptions for abortion facilities to continue but not allow any more waivers after this year.

Planned Parenthood officials had worried the restrictions would force many facilities to close (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/27). However, the building requirements would still affect a Planned Parenthood facility in Lafayette, Ind., which also would be affected by the medication abortion regulations in the bill (Indianapolis Star, 3/28).