Republicans in the Indiana House rejected a proposal Monday that would have required doctors' offices to meet stricter standards for their buildings and operations if they administer abortion-inducing drugs.
The standards would have been the same as those required by Senate Bill 371
for clinics that use RU-486 and other drugs for what are called "medical abortions."
Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, said she offered the proposal to ensure that all medical facilities - and therefore all patients - are treated equally.
"I believe they should be the same, no matter where the abortion occurs," she said. "Let's make it fair. If it's what we think should be the policy for clinics, then let's make it also the policy for private offices."
Errington's amendment was one of several that Democrats offered Monday in an attempt to change SB 371, which is eligible Tuesday for a vote by the full House. The bill has already passed the Senate but with different language, meaning that it must return to that chamber before it could become law.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, said her goal is patient safety. She said abortion-inducing drugs can cause side effects and other problems that non-surgical clinics may be unprepared to handle.
So the bill requires clinics to have a recovery room and sterilization equipment for surgical tools. The bill also means the clinics would need larger hallways to accommodate gurneys. Planned Parenthood of Indiana has said the bill could force it to close a center in Lafayette that only performs medical abortions, not surgical ones.
Negele said that private physicians rarely administer abortion-inducing drugs and therefore the legislation doesn't need to address them.
But Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said that means Republicans are targeting the places where poor women are more likely to get an abortion but exempting those officers where wealthier women would probably seek them.
"You have to decide what you want this bill to be," he said. "Is this a particular attack on a provider you don't like? Or an attempt to address what you see to be a health care situation?"
The GOP-majority House rejected the amendment 67-25.
Other Democratic amendments - including attempts to require that schools serve pregnant girls and change the brochure that women receive before an abortion - were either defeated or ruled out of order.
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.