Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature on Tuesday voted to advance a bill that tightens state abortion laws despite objections that it would force doctors to provide dubious information to their patients.
House Bill 1577 requires Indiana doctors to tell women undergoing drug-induced abortions about a disputed treatment that could stop the abortion process, and bans chemical abortions ordered via telemedicine.
The bill also includes a requirement for notarization of a parent’s signature allowing abortion for women younger than 18 years old.
The Indiana Senate, which has a strong anti-abortion majority that has supported numerous restrictions in recent years, voted Tuesday to advance the proposal. The bill now heads back to the House for final approval.
Supporters argue the bill ensures that women who change their minds after taking the first of the two drugs for a medication abortion are provided with information about stopping the process by taking a different drug.
Medical groups say the abortion pill “reversal” process is not backed up by science and that there is little information about its safety.
“I believe we are beginning to slide down a slope that is dangerously leading us to a place where what we do here in this Legislature as it relates to women and women’s health options will no longer be reliable and perceived as objective-based, on reasonable facts and information,” said Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis. “At its core, this is simply another politically motivated attempt to restrict access to a safe, legal abortion.”
Six states already have similar requirements in place, while laws in three other states — North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee — have been blocked by legal challenges, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
Medication abortions accounted for 44% of the roughly 7,600 abortions performed in Indiana during 2019, according to the state health department’s most recent statistics.
“You want to talk about junk science? Talk to the women who regretted the first pill … you don’t want them to know there’s an option?” said bill sponsor Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne. “All this is saying — before you take that second set of pills and if you’re having a change of thought — we’re going to give you all the information. You have a right to know.”