Indiana Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Pharmacists to Refuse to Dispense Abortion Drugs

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 2, 2019   |   3:14PM   |   Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indiana legislature passed a bill to expand conscience protections to pharmacists, nurses and physicians assistants by an overwhelming majority this week.

The bill, which passed the state House in March and Senate in a 38-8 vote on Monday, now heads to pro-life Gov. Eric Holcomb, the NWI Times reports.

The pro-life measure extends conscience protections to a wider group of medical workers who have a religious, moral or ethical objection to abortion. Currently, Indiana provides conscience protections for physicians, hospital employees and health clinic staff.

The bill would add nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists to the law. It also would add a prohibition to ensure that medical providers can not be forced to prescribe, administer or dispense abortion-inducing drugs.

“We respect the religious liberties of our citizens here in Indiana,” said state Sen. Liz Brown, who sponsored the bill. “What this does is extend those conscience protections, that religious liberties, to instances where they are now being required to participate in an abortion.”

This bill expands Indiana law to extend conscience protections to additional medical providers. Currently, physicians and hospital employees can object to participating in abortions for ethical, moral or religious reasons. SB 201, authored by Sen. Liz Brown, would extend conscience protections to other medical providers, including nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists.

“Chemical abortions are on the rise in Indiana,” shared Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “As more women seek chemical abortions that use pills, pharmacists and other health care workers may become unwilling participants in an abortion. Thank you to Sen. Brown for authoring this conscience protection bill. All health care providers must be able to practice their profession in Indiana without helping to end a child’s life against their conscience. We urge Gov. Holcomb to sign this important pro-life bill.”

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However, state Sen. Mark Stoops, a Democrat and one of the eight who voted against the bill, argued that it would let medical workers impose their religious views on others, Indiana Public Media reports.

“You are now allowing licensed and certified professionals to deny care, which is part of the responsibility of their profession,” Stoops said.

The legislation comes amid concerns about a rise in drug-induced abortions in Indiana and other parts of the country. In 2017, 36 percent of abortions in Indiana were chemical, drug-induced abortions, according to Indiana Right to Life.

“This law will send a message to health care providers that they can practice their profession in Indiana without making ethical concessions,” said Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “No one should be forced to participate in the deliberate ending of a child’s life. Sen. Brown’s bill extends important protections to health care providers. We’re pleased the Indiana Senate and House have passed SB 201 and we urge Gov. Eric Holcomb to sign it into law.”

Holcomb, a pro-life Republican, is expected to sign the law.

SB 201 was authored by Sen. Liz Brown with co-authors Sens. Linda Rogers, Travis Holdman, Dennis Kruse, Eric Bassler, John Crane, Ron Grooms and Jim Tomes in the Senate.

SB 201 was sponsored in the House by Reps. Ron Bacon, Christy Stutzman, Peggy Mayfield, Chris Judy, Dave Heine, Martin Carbaugh, Ben Smaltz, Matt Hostettler, Dennis Zent, J.D. Prescott, Jim Lucas, David Abbott, Ryan Lauer, Shane Lindauer, Jeff Thompson, and Tim Wesco.