Heartbeat, ultrasound image must be offered Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a law on April 19 requiring abortion providers to offer patients an opportunity to hear fetal heartbeats and see fetal ultrasound images as part of the state’s Informed Consent requirements. Organizations such as Indiana Right to Life are celebrating the new law that executive director Mike Fichter says will reduce the number of abortions by “helping women better understand the humanity of the unborn child.”
It is a view Daniels shares, demonstrated by his ceremonious presentation to Fichter of the pen used to sign the bill into law, during a Right to Life Spring Banquet that same evening.
In addition to the personal gift, the governor described the assembly of anti-abortionists as the “most selfless of all advocacy groups,” and stressed that “making abortion more rare” is a goal of his administration, along with government reform and economic growth.
The praise of their cause and the political commitment to advance that cause was greeted with cheers and applause by the 2,100 banquet attendees who were initially disappointed to learn that the governor would not be signing the new legislation at the banquet itself, as they had originally been promised.
Though Daniels rarely spoke publicly about his views on abortion during his campaign, these recent actions leave no room for doubt about the new governor’s intentions.
For more than 10 years, the Informed Consent law of Indiana has required a woman to receive a variety of information prior to an abortion. An oral presentation must be made in person, and read aloud to the woman by a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse or midwife at least 18 hours prior to an abortion.
The lecture itself informs the woman about the medical aspects of the abortion procedure. She is required to be informed of the name of the doctor who will perform the procedure, the nature and risks of the procedure and the probable gestation of the fetus.
In addition to the medical information, the law requires the same in-person lecture to inform the woman of financial alternatives she might not have thought of on her own: the “father” is liable for child support; she might qualify for public assistance such as Medicaid to help pay prenatal, childbirth and neonatal care; and should she choose to place her child up for adoption the adoptive parents may legally pay for the prenatal, childbirth and neonatal care.
Now, 84 of 100 House representatives, 40 of 50 state senators and Daniels have added one more component to the legally mandated pre-abortion consent process.
After being told the facts and alternatives, the law now requires the woman to be asked if she would like to hear the fetal heartbeat or view an ultrasound image of the fetus before having the abortion.
Because, according to opponents of abortion like Fichter, “An ultrasound image and the sound of a beating heart make it clear that an unborn child is not a blob of tissue, but a real child who is growing and developing in the womb.”
Spokesperson for the governor Jane Jankowski said Daniels “supports the legislation because it provides a pregnant woman with information to help her make an informed decision.”
The new legislation is part of the Informed Consent law first passed in 1993, and amended in 1995, 1997 and 1998. It is currently under review by the Indiana Supreme Court, as opponents have argued that the 18-hour waiting period that requires a woman to make two separate trips to the doctor’s office is unconstitutional.
The Indiana Supreme Court began considering the case before the newest requirement of ultrasound imaging and fetal heartbeat monitoring were added to the Informed Consent law.