Local advocates weigh in on Indiana’s recent abortion bill

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A new state abortion bill that has drawn praise from local pro-life advocates is heading to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk.

H.B. 1577 includes new consent requirements for minors seeking an abortion, along with restrictions on clinics who are allowed to prescribe abortion-inducing medication.

WANE 15 connected with local advocates in favor and against this bill to provide a detailed breakdown of this bill. Cathie Humbarger, the director of public affairs for Right to Life of Northeast Indiana, considers this bill a significant win for pro-life advocates.

“I’m extremely pleased to see this piece of legislation move through both chambers and now soon to be on the governor’s desk,” Humbarger said.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, a physician for Planned Parenthood, argues this bill hurts minors and low income women who already have limited options in the state when seeking an abortion.

New requirements for physicians

Supporters of H.B. 1577 tout a measure that requires physicians to advise patients that they could reverse an abortion that is carried out through medication. The most common type of prescription involves taking two pills, Mifepristone followed by Misoprostol. Prescribing physicians would be required by state law to inform patients that they could reverse an abortion by not taking Misoprostol.

Some evidence suggests that effects of Mifepristone may be avoided, ceased, or reversed if the second pill, Misoprostol, has not been taken.

Physicians who prescribe abortion-inducing medication would be required to provide the above statement under Indiana H.B. 1577.

Humbarger argues this practice has been around for years. She adds that if a clinic presents a woman with the option to get an abortion via medication, then the same opportunity should be presented to her if she changes her mind.

“If the mother decides that she wants to change the baby’s life, this is absolutely a solution that needs to be presented to her,” Humbarger said.

Critics, however, argue that an abortion reversal is not scientifically proven. In a statement following the decision to pass H.B. 1577, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates called the decision “unproven and unethical.”

Dr. Bernard says there are no clear benefits from reversing a medicated abortion, adding that this could leave prescribing physicians liable if a patient experiences severe side effects from not taking the second pill.

“The benefit of it have not been proven in any scientifically sound study,” Bernard said.

Physicians would also not be allowed to prescribe abortion medication through telehealth appointments. However, a recent announcement from the FDA could complicate that matter as long as the U.S. remains in a public health crisis from COVID-19.

Parental consent for minors

H.B. 1577 would require minors to get notarized consent from a parent or guardian before getting an abortion. Bernard claims that obtaining a notarized signature adds another hurdle to a vulnerable population.

“This is not about safety, this is not about ensuring the well-being of minors,” Dr. Bernard said. “It’s really about decreasing access to abortion for minors.”

Humbarger, however, believes obtaining a notary is needed as extra security to ensure the person providing consent is actually a minor’s parent or guardian.

“We want to make certain that the parent that is signing that form is the one that is going to be responsible to help this girl in the event of complications or emotional upset, which is very likely going to happen,” adds Humbarger.

Other matters

Along with the required notary and restrictions on physicians, the Indiana General Assembly passed these measures in H.B. 1577:

  • Shortens the time allotted to performs a medicated abortion from nine to eight weeks after fertilization
  • Requires women who opt for an abortion via medication to take it in the presence of the prescribing physician
  • Adds mental health providers to the list of professionals who can opt of abortion procedures if they object on ethical, moral or religious grounds.
  • Requires Indiana’s Department of Health to inspect abortion clinics before a license is renewed.

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