INDIANAPOLIS | The House Republican majority will soon have to decide what they hate more: government regulations or abortions.
On Wednesday, the House Public Policy Committee rewrote Senate Bill 371 to more strictly regulate clinics that provide abortion-inducing drugs, such as RU-486, the so-called abortion pill.
Under the revised legislation, facilities that only provide abortion pills would be required to be licensed as an abortion clinic and meet the same building and equipment standards as facilities that perform surgical abortions.
That includes, among 36 single-spaced pages of other requirements, a reception area with at least two waiting room chairs per examination room, a waiting room toilet and drinking fountain, procedure rooms that are at least 120-square-feet in size, scrub facilities, corridors at least 44 inches wide and 3-foot-wide doors throughout.
State Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, the sponsor of the proposal, said requiring all clinics to meet the same standards will promote patient safety by ensuring the clinic can treat women if the abortion pill does not completely terminate a pregnancy.
However, Democratic lawmakers said it doesn't make sense to require clinics where a doctor only hands over some pills to be fully equipped for surgical abortions that never take place.
"This seems to me like a perfect example of government overreach into a business," said state Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie.
One of the nine committee Republicans agreed and joined the four Democrats in voting against the measure.
State Rep. Sean Eberhardt, R-Shelbyville, said he opposes abortion but could not support the legislation, which he called "troubling," because the new regulations on facilities that distribute abortion-inducing pills wouldn't apply to doctors who provide the abortion pill to patients in their offices.
He said the rules should be applied "uniformly and fairly across-the-board."
The legislation, which now advances to the full House, also limits the use of abortion-inducing drugs to the first nine weeks of pregnancy and requires doctors to perform an ultrasound on any woman seeking either type of abortion.