Indiana is gunning for abortion rights this week. Within a span of two days, Indiana’s House revived its “abortion reversal” bill, and a Senate panel advanced a restrictive bill aimed at curbing minors’ access to abortion care.
Even for Indiana, which has a draconian anti-choice record, these measures are extreme in their disregard for women’s health and privacy.
On Tuesday, the House Public Policy Committee approved H.B. 1128, which requires, among other things, that “a pregnant woman be informed orally and in writing before an abortion obtained through an abortion inducing drug that the abortion may be possibly reversed.”
Last week, the committee approved a similar bill, but was met with resistance by some House Republicans, who cited concerns about a provision requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound to determine a fetus’ gestational age. This provision was struck from Tuesday’s bill.
But the real controversy at the heart of this bill isn’t an abandoned ultrasound measure. Rather, it’s the junk science being peddled to dissuade women from exercising their constitutional right to abortion.
Heralded by anti-choice physician George Delgado, so-called “abortion reversal” involves injecting women who have already taken mifepristone — an abortion pill — with progesterone, a hormone typically administered to prevent threats of miscarriage. The idea is that the progesterone will “save” a pregnancy that is mid-termination just as it can with viable at-risk pregnancies.
As ThinkProgress has previously reported, this method is flawed and has been widely discredited by medical experts and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Namely, no reliable research exists proving that any treatment reverses the effects of a medication abortion. What’s more, “reversal” carries risks. According to ACOG, “Progesterone, while generally well tolerated, can cause significant cardiovascular, nervous system and endocrine adverse reactions as well as other side effects.”
Nonetheless, Indiana’s House Republicans are determined to interfere with a woman’s right to choose, by whatever means necessary and at any cost — and they’re not alone.
On the heels of the House committee’s “abortion reversal” bill, a Senate panel advanced S.B. 404, which would require parents to be notified if their minor daughter seeks legal action to obtain an abortion without parental consent — and, in an unprecedented maneuver, give them the right to try to stop it in court.
Currently, Indiana law provides a judicial waiver option for minors seeking abortion care without parental consent, allowing them to petition juvenile court for permission to have the procedure.
If approved by the full Senate, S.B. 404 will essentially gut the waiver option, becoming the first law of its kind. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are 36 states that require parental involvement and have an alternative process, like judicial waivers, for minors seeking an abortion. None of them require parental notification for judicial bypass proceedings.
What’s more, the bill would increase the standard of evidence judges must consider in waiver petitions to “clear and convincing evidence” (current law does not specify a standard of proof). In other words, the minor must convince the court that she is mature enough to make the decision to have an abortion and that it is in her best interest to do so.
This law would severely undermine girls’ constitutional right to privacy and unnecessarily endanger their health and wellbeing.
Judicial proceedings have a myriad of obstacles; teens must have a working knowledge of the court system, take time off school and/or work to petition the court, and openly discuss a private medical decision in front of strangers, all with no guarantee their request will be granted. This delays their access to abortion, which can increase medical risks and costs. And forced parental involvement potentially puts girls in danger, should their parents be abusive.
“This bill undercuts the essential support provided by trusted adults –including clergy, health care professionals, and even other family members — to young girls and women dealing with the challenges of an unintended pregnancy. Young girls and women who, for whatever reason, feel they cannot turn to a parent,” Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement. “It is harmful legislation that would likely cause further harm to the very victims they claim they wish to protect and is fraught with unintended consequences.”
The bill will proceed to a second reading on the Senate floor, during which time it may be amended — though probably not in the true interests of young women. Not in Vice President Pence’s home state.