INDIANAPOLIS — An abortion procedure rarely used in Indiana would be outlawed in most circumstances under legislation approved 9-4 on a party-line vote Monday in the Republican-controlled House Public Policy Committee.
House Bill 1211 prohibits dilation and evacuation abortions, which the proposal calls "dismemberment abortion," except when a woman otherwise would suffer "substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function."
Supporters of the measure claim the procedure is inhumane because it permits a doctor to uses forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments to remove a fetus from a woman's uterus.
However, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dilation and evacuation is the safest method for completing an abortion after 13 weeks of pregnancy.
State records show just 27 women obtained a second trimester abortion in Indiana out of 7,778 total abortions during 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.
All 27 were completed at hospitals in Indianapolis or Carmel. None were performed at clinics operated by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, the most frequent target of anti-abortion legislation in the Hoosier State.
Opponents of the measure note that second trimester abortions generally occur when prenatal testing indicates serious health risks for either the fetus or pregnant woman. They say the decision over whether to continue the pregnancy to term should be made by the woman and her doctor — not state legislators.
Similar laws already have been struck down by courts in seven other states.
But abortion opponents hope with two new conservative justices recently appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, more restrictions on the right to abortion now will pass constitutional muster at the nation's high court.
A second provision in the legislation attempts to revive last year's abortion "complications" reporting mandate that was voided due to vagueness by a federal court in Indianapolis.
This year's measure includes more precise definitions for many of the 26 physical and psychological "complications" that all doctors and hospitals would be required to report to the state if a woman who ever had an abortion presents with conditions at any time in her life connected to the abortion, including depression, anxiety or trouble sleeping.
National anti-abortion groups have announced plans to post details of Indiana's abortion complications report on their websites to deter women from choosing abortion, even though Indiana women are far more likely to die giving birth than due to an abortion.
In 2016, the most recent year with comparable data available from the state health department, 43.6 Hoosier women died during pregnancy, childbirth or a few weeks after for every 100,000 births, compared to zero women who died from an abortion.
The full House likely will consider proposed amendments to the legislation later this week and then vote on whether to advance it to the Republican-controlled Senate.