An abortion pill, officially known as RU-486, is the earliest available abortion option for a woman. A patient could be as little as one week pregnant and take the pill to terminate. But despite the incredibly early stage at which the pill is administered, a new bill proposed in the Indiana State Senate would require women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before they are permitted to simply swallow the medication.
Indiana’s effort follows a sweeping national trend to mandate the medically unnecessary and invasive procedure as a way to create barriers to abortion access. And theirs goes a step further, by also forcing clinics that administer the pill to meet all of the same requirements as a surgical abortion clinic:
The provision is included in Senate Bill 371, which also would require any clinic that dispenses the drug — known as RU-486 — to meet the same requirements as a clinic that performs surgical abortions, though physicians’ offices would be exempt.
Those requirements, opponents say, potentially would force the Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette to close. That clinic offers the abortion pill but does not perform surgical abortions. If the bill passes, the clinic would have to widen hallways and doorways to meet state specifications for surgery and install anesthesia, surgical and sterilization equipment.
Twelve states already have unnecessary ultrasound laws on the books, and over a dozen more are being considered in state houses across the country. But the theory that legislators are peddling — that such laws might change a woman’s mind — ignore the simple fact that 90 percent of women feel very confident about their decision to get an abortion before seeing a doctor. A transvaginal ultrasound may cause a woman discomfort and cost her more money, but it’s unlikely to change her constitutionally-protected decision to get an abortion.
Indiana’s bill is actually twice as invasive as most forced ultrasound bills, the Huffington Post reports. The version that advanced out of a Senate committee today would require women to undergo two transvaginal probes — before and after taking the abortion pill. There’s no medically necessary reason to require an ultrasound after an abortion procedure, since women can simply take a blood test to see whether their hormone levels have returned to normal to verify that they are no longer pregnant.