By Andi TenBarge
Talk of banning abortions based on gender selection or fetal disability sparked a heated debate Wednesday in the Senate Public Health Committee.
Senate Bill 334 – authored by Sens. Travis Holdman, R-Markle and Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne – would prohibit health providers from performing abortions if the doctor knows the procedure is desired because of the fetus’s sex or a potential disability.
The bill passed the committee 7-4 as amended.
The original bill included criminal penalties for providers who performed abortions in those circumstances but the committee amended those out of the legislation.
Opponents questioned why the bill is needed if a provider couldn’t be charged. But Brown said the legislation helps preserve the value of women and people with disabilities. She pointed out that in China, families value a baby boy over a baby girl, which leads to abortions.
But Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, quickly countered that argument.
“I know you that you cited China, but in the United States we have not found that sex selection has been a reason” for an abortion, she said. “None of the research supports that.”
Brown said that doctors aren’t providing women with enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. She said, in some cases, providers are urging women to have an abortion.
“I think what we’re seeing today is a rush to judgment,” she said.
That caused tensions to continue rising when Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, shifted the argument to women’s ability to make the decision to have an abortion.
“I take offense that you indicated that it’s the physician who is making the decisions for women by urging them to abort,” Breaux said. “Do you not believe that as a woman that I have the ability – when given the information – to make the decision that’s the best decision for my family and for me?”
Opponents also said that the bill should offer more funding to support children with disabilities.
“Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?“ Becker said. “I think that what I’m trying to say is that we have a responsibility to those families and to those children to provide for them.”
The bill now moves on to the Senate.
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.