March 27, 2018

Holcomb Signs Bill Mandating Abortion Information

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Lauren Chapman/IPB News
By AILEEN CHUANG, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a new law that will require medical providers who treat women for complications arising from abortions to report detailed patient information to the state.

The Republican governor signed the measure without fanfare Sunday, shortly before leaving the country for a multi-day trade mission to Canada.

Supporters said the law, which takes full effect in July, will ensure abortions are provided safely in the state. But opponents argued that it's overly burdensome and will further stigmatize abortion, which has lower complication rates than many other standard procedures.

Previous state efforts to restrict abortions in Indiana have been challenged in court in recent years, some of which have been blocked from taking effect.

The Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully fought other abortion laws in court, said it is closely reviewing the law and has not ruled out suing the state over it.

"It seems like our Legislature's dead set on passing radical abortion restrictions every single year," ACLU Indiana director of advocacy Katie Blair said in an interview.

The anti-abortion group Indiana Right to Life, meanwhile, celebrated the signing of the bill. In a tweet, the organization called it a "BIG weekend for LIFE in Indiana!"

Indiana has paid the ACLU more than $290,000 in legal fees for similar cases related to abortion legislation in recent years, according to state records.

Several cases are still pending in court, notably one challenging a 2016 law signed by former Gov. Mike Pence that would prohibit women from getting an abortion due to a fetus's race, sex or diagnosis of disability. The law also requires that the identities of abortion providers be made public, that funerals be held for fetal remains and that women undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours prior to undergoing the procedure.

Another law dealing with parental notification was blocked from taking effect after Holcomb signed it last year. It would have made it challenging for minors seeking an abortion.

This year's measure will require doctors, hospitals and clinics to report to the State Department of Health about a wide range of complications. That includes serious medical conditions — like kidney failure, cardiac arrest, hemorrhaging and blood clots — as well as depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.

Other provisions in the measure will require annual inspections of abortion clinics and legalize the use of "baby boxes" in fire departments, which allow a parent to give up an infant anonymously and without fear of penalty.

Holcomb praised the measure for doing what the other states have been doing.

"This bill does what 27 other states have done to gather information on these procedures without restricting access to them," the governor said in a statement.

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