INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Clinics would have to inform women seeking abortions that life begins at conception and that a fetus may feel pain under a contentious abortion bill that some lawmakers are trying to revive.
The new version might also include a "pharmacist conscience clause" that would allow pharmacists not to distribute certain medications, such emergency contraception, if they feel that it goes against their beliefs.
A conference committee of both House and Senate members met today to try to resolve differences between their versions of the bill.
The Senate version does not include the House provisions that women be informed of life at conception and fetal pain, but it would make clinics tell them about adoption options.
Rep. Tim Harris, a Republican from Marion who sponsored the bill, said he favored the House version and adding the Senate adoption language.
If the conference committee reaches an agreement today, the legislation would move to the full Senate and House for consideration.
"To me this is the human rights issue of our day," said Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel. "We have a duty to protect the least among us."
But abortion rights advocates said such legislation tramples on religious freedom and dictates what doctors must tell their patients.
Lindsey Mintz, director of government affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council, said only some Christians believe that life begins at conception, while others and the Jewish community do not.
"It's making a legal fact out of a religious belief," Mintz said. "It would deal a serious blow to religious liberty in this state."
Michael McKillip, with Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said doctors seem to agree that it is feasible that a fetus may feel pain after 20 weeks gestation, but there is no consensus about pain earlier than that.
"We need to leave these decisions to the medical community," he said.
Arkansas, Georgia and Minnesota inform women that a fetus may feel pain, but those states specify that it applies to fetuses at 20 weeks gestation or later. Indiana would become the first state to tell all women seeking abortions that fetuses may feel pain.
Sen. Jeff Drozda, R-Westfield, wanted to insert the pharmacist clause. But some said that could kill the bill because neither the House nor Senate passed that provision.
Harris said he would consider the clause, and hoped to make a decision about it later today.