Life begins at conception, and a fetus could feel pain during an abortion.
Indiana would require doctors to deliver that heavily debated statement, in writing, to abortion patients under proposed legislation that re-emerged Thursday at the Statehouse.
A similar bill died in the Senate last year, but its author, Sen. Patricia L. Miller, R-Indianapolis, is pushing it again this session.
The legislation, Senate Bill 146, was debated Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee but received no vote.
Representatives from Indiana Right to Life, the Indiana Catholic Conference and the conservative activist group Advance America backed the bill. Planned Parenthood and the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation spoke against it.
Once again, I feel forced to ask: don’t legislators have anything to do? Because if they need an agenda of real legislation to work on, at any governmental level, I would be more than happy to personally draft one. But sadly, no, they apparently don’t have anything better to do. And the kind of people authoring and promoting this bill are probably the last people on earth who would ever listen to, let alone request, my advice.
Miller said the bill is necessary to make sure women considering an abortion have all the facts they need to make an informed decision.
“This decision is a life decision, and many people who have abortions never forget they had an abortion,” Miller said. “So I think we ought to help them as much as we can before as opposed to afterward.”
Democrats traditionally have fought the bill, objecting to the notion of defining life at conception and presenting as fact that a fetus can feel pain during an abortion.
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, pursued those concerns at Thursday’s hearing, but disagreements on those issues appeared resolved.
As originally written, Miller’s bill would require doctors to tell abortion patients that the “fetus might feel pain.” Miller agreed Thursday to change that language to “there are differing medical opinions concerning when a fetus feels pain,” a proposal made by Lanane.
Lanane and Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, also stressed the American Medical Association’s definition that life begins when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. In response, Lanane and Miller agreed to amend the bill to read “an embryo formed by the fertilization of a human ovum by a human sperm immediately begins to divide and grow as human physical life.”
In 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, 10,686 abortions were performed in Indiana, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, I chuckle reading this even though I know that I shouldn’t. But in another world, one where women’s reproductive liberties weren’t at stake, it would be pretty fucking amusing in a Spinal Tap sort of way.
Many women never forget that they had abortions? Well, actually, that’s a relief. Now we know for sure that having an abortion doesn’t cause memory loss, unlike so many other kinds of surgery that people constantly forget they’ve had. Whether big or small, people just manage to lose all recollection of painful medical procedures on a daily basis. It’s a real problem. For example, I don’t even know that I once had major kidney surgery or that I had an hour long procedure to remove my wisdom teeth. And when I see the small scars from the gall bladder surgery I forgot all about, I furrow my brow and think “how did those get there?” It’s good to know that abortions don’t carry the same risk. Getting positive results on a pregnancy test that you hoped like hell would be negative sticks with you? Shocking.
And the text of the bill itself? Well that really does look like satire. Doctors must inform women that “there are differing medical opinions concerning when a fetus feels pain.” Well, this is true: I’m quite sure that even among intelligent, nonpolitical doctors, there is some debate in this area. Also, instead of telling women that life begins at conception (I guess that damn separation of church and state thing got in the way again), they would now have to say “an embryo formed by the fertilization of a human ovum by a human sperm immediately begins to divide and grow as human physical life.” Um. I hate to be flippant, but be my fucking guest. First of all, that’s written at a pretty high reading level, which is just counterintuitive when trying to distribute information to large sections of the public. And secondly, it essentially says “once you are pregnant, the thing in your uterus is capable of turning into a human being.”
. . . Okay. I hope that doctors would not make a habit of performing abortions on women who didn’t understand the concept of “pregnancy,” anyway.
Now, before you get annoyed with me, let me say that yes, in all seriousness, I do oppose this bill. Legislators should not be interfering with how doctors care for their patients, as long as the doctors are providing treatment safely and letting patients know of all risk factors — i.e. the release you sign when going into surgery, warning that there is a risk of death, however small. After that, the government has no place forcing doctors to moralize patients’ medical decisions. My point is merely that if we’re going to have these kinds of bullshit laws in place, this seems like the most benign one we could wish for.
At least, it seems relatively benign (compared with other anti-choice legislation), until you find out that there’s more.
Doctors would have to give written documents to pregnant women discussing the following:
* adoption alternatives are available and that there are many couples who are willing and waiting to adopt a child
* there are physical risks to the woman in having an abortion, both during the abortion procedure and after
* human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.
The bill also added a section requiring physicians to have admitting hospital privileges at a hospital in the county or in a county next to where the abortion is performed. The abortion doctor would have to tell the patient where he or she has privileges and where the patient can get follow-up care by the physician if complications arise.
See? Like I said, it could be funny, but it’s not. As for Democratic State Sen. Tim Lanane helping to amend the bill to make it more palatable to the general public, this is precisely why I think we need some sort of pro-choice litmus test for elected Dems. It was hard to dig up any info on the guy’s politics, but according to an anti-choice website, his votes are “62% pro-life.” Ass. The only potentially defensible excuse would be if Lanane was certain the bill would pass anyway, and was simply trying to mitigate the damage. But I’ve found nothing to corroborate such a theory. In any case, the bill is currently on hold.
In other Indiana anti-choice news, the legislature is also debating a bill that would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication for “moral” reasons, which essentially amounts to anything that could be used to cause an abortion. The super fun thing is that the bill’s author can’t give an example of what drugs would be affected — RU486, “the abortion pill,” is dispensed in doctors’ offices — and claims that pharmacists would not be able to refuse to dispense emergency contraception, even though the bill was modeled after another state’s law that . . . allowed pharmacists to refuse to dispense EC. Huh.
I think that Indiana is trying to enter the Most Anti-Choice State competition. They’re not quite there yet, but give them time.