INDIANAPOLIS — The amended version of the abortion ban bill passed out of committee Tuesday by a vote of 8-5 and will now head to the full House for consideration.
Senate Bill 1, which narrowly passed out of the Senate Saturday, proposed to ban nearly all abortions in the state of Indiana. On Tuesday, the House Courts and Criminal Code committee took up the bill, approving a major amendment that edits and removes some of the most debated portions of the bill.
Notably, Amendment 25 removes the portion of SB1 that would allow Attorney General Todd Rokita to prosecute a slew of crimes — including abortion — if the local prosecutor refuses to do so. However, it would make a prosecutorial oversight task force that could recommend the attorney general be given back that power in some cases.
It also removes the requirement for victims of rape and incest to sign an affidavit and would allow them up to 10 weeks to get an abortion, regardless of their age.
The amended version of Senate Bill 1, which includes all of the below details on Amendment 25, will head to the House this week, where lawmakers will further debate the bill and likely bring more amendments forward to further adjust the bill.
Here's a breakdown of that amendment and all the others that were submitted to be heard in committee Tuesday.
Amendment 25: Passed
Prosecuting 'illegal abortions'
SB1: Would allow Attorney General Todd Rokita to have concurrent jurisdiction with a local prosecutor who categorically refuses to enforce any crime in the Indiana Criminal Code, essentially allowing him to prosecute crimes — including abortion — if the local prosecutor refuses to do so.
Amendment 25 would: Remove this portion.
Why it matters: "This is a very expansive bill that goes beyond the abortion issue and could reach into substance use prosecutions and many other matters. Significantly, 'categorical refusal' means a blanket or total refusal, one not based on a case-by-case factual determination," Dr. Jody Lyneé Madeira, a professor at the IU School of Law, explained.
Prosecutorial oversight task force
Although the amendment would remove the portion of SB1 that gives the attorney general power to prosecute in some cases, it would add a prosecutorial oversight task force that could recommend the attorney general be given the same power detailed in SB1.
The task force would study the circumstances in which a county prosecutor makes a blanket refusal to enforce a specific law and consider methods of enforcing that law including:
- Granting the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction to enforce the law.
- Giving another prosecuting attorney concurrent jurisdiction to enforce the law.
- Establishing a procedure to appoint a special prosecuting attorney.
- "Any other method the task force determines should be recommended."
The task force would be allowed no more than five meetings and the task force's recommendations would have to be presented to the General Assembly before Dec. 1, 2022.
The task force would be made up of:
- Four members of the House of Representatives
- Four members of the Senate
- The executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Indiana
- The executive director of the Public Defender Council of Indiana
- The president of the Indiana Judges Association
Rape and incest
SB1: Senate Bill 1 would allow abortions in cases of rape or incest if they sign an affidavit attesting to the attack. Those under age 16 would have 12 weeks to get an abortion. Those 16 and older would have eight weeks.
Amendment 25 would: Remove the affidavit requirement. Give all victims — regardless of their age — 10 weeks to get an abortion.
Their doctor would be required to detail what happened in their medical file. They'd also have to note on a termination of pregnancy report why the pregnancy was terminated and why they thought it was rape.
Why it matters: Dr. Caroline Rouse, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at IU Health, said the affidavit requirement as written in SB1 is unusual in healthcare and that she's "concerned about anything that puts an additional step or barrier in between the patient and the medical care they need."
'Lethal Fetal Anomaly'
The term "Lethal Fetal Anomaly," or LFA, means the child won't survive longer than 90 days outside the womb.
Amendment 25 would: Allow a pregnant woman to abortion the pregnancy at any point, with no time restrictions on when that abortion occurs.
Why it matters: Current law says that if there is an LFA, pregnant women have up to 20 weeks to terminate the pregnancy. However, in some cases, a doctor could discover an LFA after 20 weeks and, under current law, women wouldn't have a choice on whether or not to proceed with the pregnancy.
Risk of litigation for doctors
SB1: Proposes to redefine "pregnancy" and "rape." It also seeks to create two new terms: "Reasonable medical judgment" and "Irremediable medical condition."
Amendment 25 would: Delete this proposal. Instead of redefining "pregnancy" and "rape," it would use "pregnancy" and "rape" as is currently defined in law. It would replace "irremediable medical condition" with "lethal fetal anomaly" which the law has already defined.
Why it matters: Doctors said these new terms were ambiguous and confusing. They feared that because the terms were up to interpretation, it would put them at risk of being sued.
Doctor medical licenses
SB1: Said if a doctor failed to report an abortion or performed an illegal abortion, the medical board may suspend their licenses after due process.
Amendment 25 would: Say the medical board shall suspend their license, after due process, for failing to report and that the medical board may suspend their license for failing to report an abortion.
Why it matters: This language would tighten up the law to make it more certain doctors would have their license suspended if they perform an illegal abortion. Their license would be at risk if they failed to report an abortion.
Changes to where you can get an abortion
Amendment 25 would: Allow abortions to be performed in three places: A hospital, an ambulatory facility owned by a hospital or anywhere in an emergent care situation.
What this means: Clinics that provide abortions would no longer be able to do so. They would, however, be able to continue providing all the same resources they would otherwise provide, like STD testing, contraceptives, etc.
Why it matters: SB1 wouldn't allow so-called abortion clinics to provide surgical abortions. It would, however, allow these clinics to give abortion-inducing drugs. Amendment 25 wouldn't allow the clinics to provide either.
Other proposed amendments:
Implicit bias training: Failed 5-8
Amendment 32 would: Require doctors, physician assistants and nurses to complete continuing education addressing the topic of implicit bias. Indiana's professional licensing agency would also be required to have, on its website, a schedule or link to implicit bias continuing education courses that are available.
Pregnancy accommodations: Failed 5-8
Amendment 37 would: Require employers to provide reasonable employment accommodations for a pregnant employee. It would also require the Civil Rights Commission to investigate and try to resolve complaints through the use of an administrative law judge.
Telehealth: Failed 4-9
Amendment 39 would: Allow telehealth to be used in the writing or filling of a prescription for an abortion-inducing drug.
Abortion timeline restrictions: Not voted on
Amendment 42 would: Restrict abortions in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother to 20 weeks.
Extending start date of bill: Failed 5-8
Amendment 43 would: Make the bill go into effect on Nov. 1, 2022, instead of Sept. 1, 2022, as proposed in SB1.
'Abortion clinics': Failed 4-9
Amendment 49 would: Redefine the term "abortion clinic" and reinstate language concerning surgical abortion procedures.
Pregnancy termination review panel: Not voted on
Amendment 51 would: Establish the pregnancy termination review panel to review complaints alleging that a physician failed to transmit a certain form or performed an abortion in violation of particular provisions and issue recommendations on these complaints.
Under this amendment, the attorney general could not take action under particular provision unless the panel issues a recommendation on a complaint. A panel member is also immune from civil liability for communications, findings and conclusions during panel duties.
Deleting Amendment 25: Not voted on
Amendment 57 would: Delete Amendment 25 and reinstate language in the bill concerning surgical abortion procedures.