Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Senate Softens Anti-Abortion Bills

The Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services overhauled two anti-abortion bills passed by the House, substantially scaling back their impact on planned parenting services in Indiana. The changes will not likely be well-received by pro-lifers.

HB 1080, as passed by the House, would have required abortion clinics to meet new building code standards by January 1, 2007 or cease operations. According to planned parenting advocates, the bill would have forced all existing abortion clinics in Indiana out of business. As amended by the Senate, it will instead require the Department of Health to conduct annual inspections of the facilities to ensure the facility meets "the safety and well being of patients", state fire prevention and safety code rules and "provide a safe and healthy environment that minimizes infection exposure and risk to patients".

The Star report said, "Abortion providers say they'll be able to comply with the revised House Bill 1080 because they already provide safe clinics." The American Family Association's Micah Clark told his members prior to the committee hearing that he only expected an amendment to the bill to allow abortion clinics more time to comply with the new standards; he can't be happy with what he got. He wrote:

I expect that an amendment may be offered to give abortion clinics more time for compliance with the regulations. This is probably not a "killer" amendment to the bill, but I am not sure that is a very good idea given Planned Parenthood’s remarkable statement last week during opposition testimony. At that time, their president stated, "it does not matter if you give us six months or six years, none of Indiana’s abortion clinics can meet these standards." It kind of makes one wonder just how bad the conditions of these clinics really are after thirty years without any health inspections by the state. It is one more reason why HB 1080 needs to be passed and applied to clinics within a reasonable period of time.

The most talked about anti-abortion bill, HB 1172, was stripped of language defining when human life begins. It was also stripped of a requirement that physicians tell women seeking an abortion that the fetus may feel pain during the procedure. The bill, as amended by Senate, will only require physicians to explain adoption alternatives to pregnant women, and that there are many couples who are willing and waiting to adopt a child.

Pro-lifers had really wanted their definition of when life begins written into Indiana law. They can't be happy with this development in the Senate today. Both bills were passed by the Senate committee unanimously. If they are passed by the full Senate, it is anticipated both bills will wind up on conference committee where still more changes could occur.

No comments: