Indiana’s 18-hour ultrasound law for abortions goes back into effect


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After a roughly three-year lawsuit between Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. (PPINK) and the Indiana State Department of Health, the Hoosier state reverted back to its 18-hour ultrasound law.

The law requirement went back into effect on January 1, 2021, the first time since 2017, when the law was blocked due to PPink’s ongoing lawsuit against the state.

The ultrasound law is part of the Dignity of the Unborn Act, which requires abortion clinics to give mothers the option to view a fetal ultrasound at least 18-hours before an abortion.

“This medically unnecessary law passed by the state is only meant to shame, stigmatize and restrict access to abortion, but we are fortunately able to maintain the same level of access to patient care and comply with this medically unnecessary law,” Nicole Erwin, Communications Manager for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky stated.

Northeast Indiana’s Right to Life operations and media director told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that she is glad that the law is back because it’s effective. Abigail Lorenzen said with the law, mothers are provided more information, instead of being left in the dark.

“A lot of post abortive women say in the past if they would have been able to see ultrasound that would have made a difference,” said Lorenzen. “They see their charts afterward, and see a picture of the ultrasound and realize that is a fully formed child in the womb at eight weeks.”

Lorenzen added that when women are trying to figure out what to do in a crisis pregnancy seeing the child in the womb helps mothers identify with the child and believe the baby is worth fighting for. When they later find out the child was fully formed, most mothers carry guilt.

“The beauty of this ultrasound law is that it doesn’t force anything on anybody,” said Lorenzen. “The 18-hour notification is part of her pre-surgery appointment. She is giving the option to see the ultrasound. Doctors already have to do the ultrasound to make sure they know the age of the child, so during that, they ask ‘will you like to see the ultrasound’? She has the option to say ‘no’, or ‘yes’.”

The 18-hour portion of the law is to prevent mothers from being forced into an abortion. Lorenzen said that in the United States, between 64% and 68% of women are forced into abortions. The 18-hours is used to give the mother time to see her fetal ultrasound and make her own decision and find help if needed.

“In some cases, they already paid for the abortion, they are already in the room, and then the doctor sort of runs through ‘okay here’s everything, do you want to do it?’. Well, she’s already sitting on the table, that’s not time to make an informed consent decision.”

In a press release back in August 2020, Right to Life Northeast Indiana stated from July to December 2016, while the ultrasound law was in effect, there were 496 fewer abortions in Indiana compared to the period of July through December 2017, when the ultrasound provision was blocked.

However, PPINK said the burden falls heaviest on the most vulnerable community members.

“Pregnant people already struggling to survive this pandemic are now being forced to navigate mandatory waiting periods that require multiple trips to a health center, placing them and their health care providers at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19,” Erwin said.

The Dignity for the Unborn Act was signed by the former Indiana Governor and current Vice President Mike Pence in 2016, which resulted in PPink suing the state. In August of 2020, PPINK dropped its lawsuit against the state.

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