Ind. Senate backs abortion phone line requirement

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A proposal to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in writing or partner with a doctor who has them drew criticism Tuesday from abortion-rights groups that say the state could release the partnering physician’s information.

The Indiana Senate voted 34-14 Tuesday to approve the bill, which would require abortion providers to establish a 24-hour-a-day phone line for patients to call in case of questions or complications. The bill also would require abortion providers to give patients contact information for the hospital that provides admitting privileges.

The bill was gutted to take out contested language that would have required all clinics to meet certain building code standards and undergo annual inspections.

But one contested measure that remains in the bill would require physicians who perform abortions to give the state information on their backup doctor with hospital admitting privileges.

Supporters say the move would create accountability so both the state and patients can verify whether doctors actually have those privileges.

“The abortion businesses want to shield the public and women having abortions from this information,” Right to Life of Indianapolis President Marc Tuttle said. “We want this information to be publicly known.”

But opponents say the measure does not promise the second physician’s information will stay private once submitted to the state.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President and CEO Betty Cockrum argued that making backup doctors’ information publicly available could put them at risk for harassment and discourage them from partnering with abortion clinics.

An amendment to cut that section was drafted but did not make it into the most recent version of the bill, which led to a lost Republican vote.

“It does nothing to improve women’s health,” state Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, said after voting against the bill. “All it will do is target doctors who provide health care for women.”

The bill now goes to the GOP-controlled House for consideration. The new restrictions would build on laws passed in each of the last two years.

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