Indiana House Committee Approves Abortion Bill Requiring Hospital Privileges
by Steven Ertelt
April 8, 2009
Indianapolis, IN (LifeNews.com) — An Indiana state House committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would require abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. In cases when an abortion goes horribly wrong and the abortion practitioner puts the life of the mother in jeopardy, the woman needs medical help.
Making sure she has a ready access to that is the point of the bill that the House Public Policy Committee passed on an 8-4 vote. Five Republican lawmakers and three Democrats supported the bill while four Democrats opposed it.
The legislation, Senate Bill 89, already has cleared the state Senate, which supported the measure in March 44-6.
It requires abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges at a hospital in the county where the abortion is done or in an adjacent county.
The legislation came about because of problems in Fort Wayne, Indiana where local doctors had to take care of patients seen by abortion practitioner George Klopfer at the Fort Wayne Womens Health Organization.
He also does abortions in South Bend and Gary and physicians have had to care for patients who have been injured by the abortions and required hospitalizations.
Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, told the Associated Press that her group opposes the measure to affirm women’s health during and after an abortion.
"We’re obviously disappointed the bill is moving forward," she said.
Abortion advocates oppose the bill because they are concerned it would put some abortion practitioners out of business who can’t get local hospitals to allow them admitting privileges.
There are nine abortion centers in Indiana located in five different counties. Testimony during the panel hearing indicated just one of the abortion practitioners operating in Indiana has hospital admitting privileges.
Sen. Patricia Miller, an Indianapolis Republican, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 89, which the state House did not take up for a vote last year.
Rep. Dave Cheatham, a Democrat who is the sponsor of the House version of the bill, spoke in favor of it during the panel hearing and said patient safety is the main thrust of the bill.
Abortion advocates said complaints could be filed against an abortion practitioner for a botched abortion but Sue Swayze, a lobbyist with Indiana Right to Life, said filing such a complaint "doesn’t address a woman’s care the days after the procedure. It only addresses multiple complaints against a doctor that may or may not be addressed over time."
The bill comes after Vanderburgh County approved a local measure last year making sure abortion practitioners there have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Local officials said it is important in the ever-increasing cases of botched abortions where women need immediate medical care.
Under the new ordinance, any doctor doing abortions must disclose to patients the name of the hospital with which admitting privileges are maintained so as to facilitate better follow-up care in the event of post-abortion complications.
Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter told LifeNews.com, Regardless of how you feel about the issue of abortion, everyone should applaud the Vanderburgh County Commission for taking this proactive step in making sure that proper safety requirements are in place if a woman experiences complications after an abortion."
Legislative attempts in 2007 and 2008 to enact statewide hospital admitting privileges requirements for doctors performing abortions were approved in the Indiana Senate with overwhelming numbers only to be defeated in the Indiana House by hostile committee assignments.
During the last legislative battle, Ft. Wayne obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Geoff Cly testified before lawmakers and recounted his experience treating women injured by abortion providers and underscored how more medical help is needed for women involved in botched abortions.
According to Americans United for Life, a national pro-life group that promotes state legislation, abortion practitioners in eleven states are required to maintain local hospital admitting privileges.
These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
The Vanderburgh County ordinance is thought to be the first locally-passed ordinance addressing the issue.
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