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Committee Passes Bill Requiring Ultrasounds Before Abortions

The bill would also mandate clinics distributing abortion-inducing drugs have the same facilities as surgical abortion centers.


Photo: Danny Yee (flickr)

A doctor looks at an ultrasound.

Women receiving abortion-inducing drugs at Indiana abortion clinics would be required to receive an ultrasound under legislation that passed in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday.

The proposed legislation would require abortion clinics to conduct two ultrasounds, one before and one after dispensing RU-486, an abortion-inducing drug.

Indiana University OB/GYN John Stutsman, who serves as Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s medical director, says vaginal ultrasounds are medically preferred in order to get the most accurate information. Because RU-486 is usually taken during the early stages of pregnancy, the fetus is typically too small to detect using a traditional ultrasound.

State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) says the bill places greater requirements on mostly low-income women. She also notes the legislative proponents of the bill are men.

“I don’t think they fully understand because I don’t think they’ve ever had a vaginal ultrasound,” she says. “So maybe we should see if we can work on that as well.”

But Indiana Right to Life Legislative Director Sue Swayze notes the bill does not specifically require vaginal ultrasounds, and says, as a woman, she does not understand the problem with the procedure.

“I got pregnant vaginally,” she says. “Something else could come in my vagina for a medical test that wouldn’t be that intrusive to me. So I find that argument a little ridiculous.”

The bill would also require clinics that dispense RU-486 to have the same facilities as a surgical abortion center, including access to anesthesia, surgical equipment and specific door and room sizes. Any physicians or facilities that do not typically dispense RU-486 would be exempt. Becker says that would make it harder for women to safely access abortion-inducing drugs.

“All this bill’s going to do is to encourage low-income women to go the Internet, that way there won’t be any type of follow-up care for them if they have a crisis,” she says.

But Swayze says that is not the goal of the bill. She says what she wants is the best reproductive care for Hoosier women.

“What I heard in there was, ‘She might go over the border, she might go on the Internet, religious freedom, etc.,” she says. “We’d rather have lower standards than let her do those other things.’  In other words, I don’t hear, ‘Yes, we will adhere to higher standards.’”

Supporters and opponents of the bill say they know of only one Indiana facility that would be affected a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette. But Swayze says with the use of RU-486 increasing, the bill would ensure more clinics do not dispense the drug without the proper facilities.

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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  • Sarah

    The wording of this article is unclear. Would the bill in question require abortion clinics to conduct
    ultrasounds or transvaginal ultrasounds?

  • Chelsea Smith

    I’m against abortion, it’s against my faith. But I guess it’s just right for an ultrasound after an abortion to see if the procedure is done correctly. I just hope that these clinics will do it right.

  • Indiana Public Media

    The bill does not specify transvaginal ultrasounds, but because RU-486 is normally taken at such an early stage, a transvaginal ultrasound is necessary to get any real results. A traditional ultrasound will not work. So in practice, the bill would require a transvaginal ultrasound. We’ve clarified this with an extra line in the story.

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