INDIANAPOLIS | Legislation that could have shuttered every abortion clinic in Indiana was rewritten Wednesday by three female Republican state senators to instead focus on patient safety.
Senate Bill 292, as originally written by state Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, would have required the state's nine surgical abortion clinics comply with near-impossible building and equipment standards by July 1 or risk losing their licenses.
But by the time state Sens. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis; Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg; and Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, got through with the measure, during a meeting of the Senate Health Committee, the attempt to close clinics was history.
Their revised legislation, which now goes to the full Senate, permits the State Department of Health to conduct annual inspections of abortion clinics, instead of every two years. It also requires women getting an abortion be more explicitly advised of each clinic's 24/7 telephone helpline for medical complications.
Liz Carroll, vice president at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said a remaining provision mandates public disclosure of the name of each clinic's doctor with hospital admitting privileges. She called that provision troublesome, because medical personnel with any connection to abortion are routinely persecuted.
"Threats and harassment against abortion providers are unfortunately common, especially here," Carroll said.
That provision could be removed by a vote of the full Senate next week. At the same time, more restrictions on abortion could be inserted in the legislation by members of the Republican-controlled chamber.
The committee separately approved Senate Bill 228, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, requiring a study of whether Hoosier women are coerced into having abortions while obtaining pregnancy services at clinics that also perform abortions.
Tomes said he has no evidence that is the case, hence the need for a study.
That measure, which now goes to the full Senate, was revised to additionally study whether crisis pregnancy centers, typically run by anti-abortion groups, coerce women into not having abortions.