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Indiana lawmakers send abortion 'reversal' bill to Holcomb

Indiana Statehouse.jpg
Posted at 1:23 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 13:23:23-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill that would require doctors to tell women undergoing drug-induced abortions about a scientifically dubious option that the bill's proponents claim could halt an abortion midway through the process.

The Republican-dominated House voted 62-25 to give the measure final legislative approval, sending it to GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb for consideration and possibly setting the state up for another legal battle over abortion restrictions.

Republicans have pushed the bill despite objections that it would force doctors to provide patients with scientifically shaky medical information. Supporters say the requirement would ensure that a woman can halt a medication-induced abortion if she changes her mind after taking the first of the two drugs used in the procedures and takes another drug instead.

A letter was read during a committee hearing from an Indiana woman who said she gave birth this year after she took the reversal drug midway through a medication-induced abortion, but that she had to search the internet about how to do it.

"What we want to do is just provide the women with the information so you don't have to Google it, because it is very time sensitive that you have this information," said bill sponsor Rep. Peggy Mayfield, a Republican from Martinsville.

Other provisions of the bill would ban medication abortions ordered via telemedicine and require the notarization of a parent's signature allowing abortions for minors.

The Senate voted 36-14 in favor of the bill last week.

Holcomb hasn't taken a public position on the bill, but he has signed previous anti-abortion legislation. His spokeswoman, Rachel Hoffmeyer, said Wednesday that the governor would review the measure.

Medical groups say the abortion pill "reversal" process is not supported by science and that there is little information about its safety.

Democratic Rep. Sue Errington of Muncie argued that the bill's provisions would likely result in a costly court challenge and asked for more cooperation toward a goal of reducing the number of abortions.

"Instead of filing bills restricting a legal medical procedure year after year, let's work together to support medically accurate sex education and better access to contraception," Errington said. "If a woman doesn't get pregnant, she won't have an abortion."

Medication abortions accounted for 44% of the roughly 7,600 abortions performed in Indiana in 2019, according to the state health department's most recent statistics.

Six states already have similar requirements in place, while laws in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee have been blocked by legal challenges, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which has successfully sued to block several Indiana anti-abortion laws over the past decade, has said the current proposal "runs afoul of the Constitution."