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General Assembly

Regulations on abortion clinics off to Senate

– A measure that would put additional regulations on the state’s abortion clinics was vastly changed in a Senate committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 292 originally would have made major changes to abortion law, but an amendment was offered by the committee chairwoman, Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, to remove most of the legislation.

After the amendment, the bill passed the committee and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill originally would have eliminated a grandfathering provision and would have required all abortion clinics to meet certain physical-plant standards, mandating major changes in some cases. The amendment removed that provision.

The original bill also would have required annual inspections of such clinics instead of biennial. The legislation now says the Indiana State Department of Health may inspect once a year and when complaints are filed.

Lastly, the measure would modify current law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital or an alternate backup physician with admitting privileges.

The bill would have eliminated the backup-physician option but was kept to reflect current law.

It now requires more information to be provided about the backup to the state.

Liz Carroll, vice president of patient services for Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said allowing a backup physician’s name to be public could result in harassment of the doctors. The group has no problem making that information available to state officials at onsite inspections.

Cindy Noe of Indiana Right to Life testified it’s important that women receiving an abortion are also provided the name and phone number of the local hospital where the doctor or backup has admitting privileges. This is in addition to a 24/7 emergency phone line already in law.

“If they need eminent care, they can go to that hospital and know their needs will be taken care of,” she said.

But Carroll said that information might confuse a woman who should go to her nearest hospital if she is in need of emergency care.

She said abortions are performed in only five Indiana counties, so knowing a hospital in that area doesn’t help a woman who has returned to another city.