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IN Senate committee approves abortion measures

Proposed legislation that passed a Senate committee Wednesday places stricter regulation on the dispensing of the abortion-inducing drug known as RU-486 and the clinics that provide it. Those clinics would be required to have the same facilities as a surgical abortion center, including access to anesthesia, surgical equipment and specific door and room sizes.  Any physicians or facilities that do not typically dispense RU-486 would be exempt.

Senator Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) says the bill will make it harder for women to safely access abortion-inducing drugs.

“All this bill’s going to do is to encourage low-income women to go the Internet, that way there won’t be any type of follow-up care for them if they have a crisis.”

Indiana Right to Life legislative director Sue Swayze says that’s not the goal of the bill.  She says what she wants is the best reproductive care for Hoosier women.

“What I heard in there was, ‘She might go over the border, she might go on the Internet, religious freedom, etc.  We’d rather have lower standards than let her do those other things.’  In other words, I don’t hear, ‘Yes, we will adhere to higher standards.’”

Supporters and opponents of the bill say they know of only one Indiana facility that would be affected – a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette.  But Swayze says with the use of RU-486 increasing, the bill would ensure more clinics don’t dispense the drug without the proper facilities.  

In a separate bill, women receiving abortion-inducing drugs at Indiana abortion clinics would be required to receive an ultrasound before and after dispensing RU-486.  Indiana University OBGYN Dr. John Stutsman, who serves as Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s medical director, says vaginal ultrasounds are medically preferred in order to get the most accurate information.

Becker says the bill places greater requirements on mostly low-income women.  And she notes the legislative proponents of the bill are men.

“I don’t think they fully understand because I don’t think they’ve ever had a vaginal ultrasound.  And so maybe we should see if we can work on that as well.”

But Swayze notes the bill doesn’t specifically require vaginal ultrasounds and says, as a woman, she doesn’t understand the problem with the procedure. 

“I got pregnant vaginally.  Something else could come in my vagina for a medical test that wouldn’t be that intrusive to me.  So I find that argument a little ridiculous.”

Both bills advance to the full Senate for consideration.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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