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Attempt at County-Level Admitting Privileges Law Rejected in Ind.

November 26, 2014 — An Indiana county council committee on Tuesday abandoned a proposed ordinance that would have required the county's only abortion provider to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, WNDU News reports.

The committee's decision means the bill will not be sent to the full St. Joseph's County Council for consideration.

A state law (SB 292) requires abortion providers to have either admitting privileges at a hospital or an agreement with a local medical provider who does (Gonzalez, WNDU News, 11/25). Providers who have agreements with another medical provider must report the provider's name to the state health department, which keeps the information confidential.

The proposed county ordinance would have required abortion providers to also report that information to the patient. Abortion providers also would have had to keep information on file with the county showing that they have admitting privileges. The county's sole abortion provider does not have such privileges, according to WSBT News (Stopczynski/Fillmore, WSBT News, 11/25).

Debate

At Tuesday's meeting, the committee did not hear public comments but listened to testimony from two medical professionals and a University of Notre Dame law professor.

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists Executive Director Donna Harrison said the proposal was reasonable. Admitting privileges requirements are "one way to ensure patient safety," she said, adding that "[w]hoever is caring for the patient needs to have medical records available."

However, Ellyn Stecker, a family practice doctor who opposed the proposal, said that if women in the county had to travel elsewhere to obtain abortions because there were no nearby providers, it would "increase their cost" and "delay the obtaining of the abortion" (WNDU News, 11/25). She noted that first trimester abortions are "extremely safe" when performed "in certified facilities which is what we have here," adding that "every week that's added in the pregnancy will increase [a woman's] risk" (WSBT News, 11/25).