Indiana law requires doctors to report abortion complications

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Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.

Doctors in Indiana must report legally specified complications that might arise from abortions under a law signed by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

“This bill does what two other states have done to gather information on these procedures without restricting access to them,” Holcomb said, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Under the law, Senate Enrolled Act 340, doctors must report to state authorities any of 26 complications associated with abortions. These include infections, cardiac arrest, psychological or emotional issues, sleeping disorders, and anxiety.

Doctors must report the complications even if they don’t work in an abortion clinic. If they fail to report complications they could face charges of a Class B misdemeanor, up to 180 days in prison, and fines of up to $1,000, the U.K. newspaper The Independent reports.

Under the reporting standards, doctors are not to report identifiable information like the names of patients. If there are complications, doctors must report the woman’s race, age, marital status, education level, and county and state of residence; the type of abortion performed; and the facility where the abortion was performed.

They must also report how many abortions a woman who has suffered complications has had.

Three legislatures have approved such laws on abortion complications. The Idaho legislature passed a similar law last week.

Rep. Peggy Mayfield, a Republican sponsor of the bill, said it is needed for public health reasons because the state is the only oversight for abortions.

During debate over the bill, Democrats said legal challenges to the legislation could be costly.

There is currently a legal challenge to a bill that Holcomb signed in 2017 that makes it more difficult for minors to seek an abortion, while court rulings that other abortion legislation was unconstitutional resulted in $170,000 in legal fees paid by Indiana to the American Civil Liberties Union in 2013, and another $123,000 in 2015.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has said it may file a legal challenge against the law.

Other foes of the legislation included the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians, which saw the reporting requirements as too burdensome on doctors and the doctor-patient relationship, even for doctors who do not perform abortions.

“We opposed this bill and felt compliance was onerous for physicians, especially in light of non-compliance being treated as a criminal violation including jail time,” said Richard Feldman, a family physician who is legislative chairman for the group.

He said the complications list is “astonishingly long” and many on the list are “inappropriate in regard to current standards of care, research value, clinical relevance, or reasonable time frames for patient contact.”

The new Indiana law also requires annual inspections of abortion clinics. It legalizes the use of “baby boxes” at fire departments, where a parent may give up an infant anonymously without fear of legal consequences.

Another bill Holcomb signed into law, Senate Enrolled Act 203, allowed murder charges to be filed against those who kill an unborn child in a crime, regardless of the age of the unborn child.
The law does not apply to abortions, but pro-life advocates saw it as a victory because it gives some legal recognition to the unborn child.

Several states continue to pass legislation restricting or regulating abortion. Last week, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill barring dilation and evacuation abortions after 11 weeks into pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergency. If the bill becomes law, it would become the most restrictive in the U.S.

Utah and Pennsylvania are considering bans on abortions motivated solely by a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

In Ohio, two Republican legislators have proposed a bill that would bar abortions without exception and recognize the legal personhood of the unborn child under state law for the purposes of murder and manslaughter charges and wrongful death lawsuits, Cleveland.com reports.

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