By Lesley Weidenbener
Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Wednesday that will put stricter regulations on clinics administering abortion-inducing drugs including RU-486.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana has said the legislation will likely force it to end abortion services at a clinic in Lafayette. That's the only clinic in Indiana where so-called "medical abortions" are the only ones performed.
"I believe in the right to life and in protecting the health and well-being of women in Indiana," Pence said in a statement. "Abortion-inducing drugs can be very dangerous, and must be prescribed under conditions that ensure proper medical care. This new law helps accomplish that goal."
The bill requires clinics that administer the abortion pill to be designed to handle surgeries, even if they don't perform them. It also changes the brochure women receive when considering an abortion so the pictures are in full color.
It 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.
The same rules are not imposed on doctors that administer abortion-inducing drugs in their offices.
Indiana Right to Life lauded the bill's passage.
"This crucial oversight mechanism will help ensure chemical abortion facilities are ready to adequately care for any woman who experiences complications following her procedure," said Mike Fichter, the group's president, in a statement.
He said that although the bill one only affect the Lafayette clinic, "it also prevents additional facilities from moving into Indiana and setting up shop without any oversight."
However, Planned Parenthood officials have challenged the motivations for the bill.
"Claiming the additional regulations in this bill are about 'patient safety' is a smokescreen," Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said when the bill passed. "Legislators really intend to chip away at Hoosier women's access to abortion - and as part of a coordinated national effort, shut down Planned Parenthood's health care centers that also provide preventive care."
Cockrum said the abortion-inducing drugs are already "highly regulated."
"Non-surgical abortion is very safe," Cockrum said. "Politicians should care about the facts, and stay out of women's personal health care decisions," Cockrum said.
ACLU Legal Director Ken Falk said the law "imposes requirements that fail to meet even minimal rationality standards." He said the law is "clearly unconstitutional."
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.