A bill to ban abortion at nearly all stages of pregnancy is nearing final passage in the Indiana state legislature, marking one of the first states to consider tight restrictions on abortion care in the weeks since the constitutional right to abortion was revoked. by the US Supreme Court.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard — an Indianapolis-area obstetrician-gynecologist who came under fire after she reportedly performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape survivor from Ohio after the state’s abortion ban went into effect — said she is “deeply disturbed” by the her state bill, which she said would harm her patients and worsen health outcomes in the state.
“I’ve been practicing medicine for 12 years and I follow a code of ethics, so I know medicine is not about exceptions,” she said in a statement through her attorney on Aug. 3.
“Every person deserves equal access to the best medical care as they make decisions about their own health, and elected politicians should not be the ones making those decisions,” he said. “This bill will hurt my patients and Hoosiers will have worse health outcomes as a result.”
Indiana lawmakers are considering Republican-authored legislation to ban nearly all abortions with limited exceptions. A draft passed a key House committee after hours of debate on Aug. 2 and is expected to advance to the full House within the week.
A state Senate version of the bill was passed over the weekend. The bill allows exceptions only for pregnancies from rape or incest, or when the patient’s life is in danger. Indiana currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
State lawmakers in Indiana and West Virginia are currently advancing bills to restrict abortion care in the wake of the first U.S. referendum on abortion rights in Kansas, where a clear majority of voters “voted to affirm that women should to have the right to make decisions about their own bodies and that those decisions are between them and their doctors,” said Dr. Bernard.
“On behalf of the Hoosiers I care for every day, I hope the elected leaders in Indiana will reconsider and do what’s right for my patients,” he added.
Neighboring Ohio — among at least 10 states that do not provide exemptions for abortions from pregnancies resulting from rape or incest — enacted its own law banning abortion by detecting a so-called “heartbeat” at about six weeks of pregnancy. Notably, this time period is before many patients find out they are pregnant or about two weeks after a missed period. The 10-year-old rape victim under Dr. Bernard’s care was reportedly six weeks pregnant.
“All states have pregnant people who need abortion care, in the most extreme circumstances and in the most common circumstances, and everyone deserves to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care in a state in which they live,” she said. The independent last month.
A suspect in the Ohio case has been arrested and charged with two counts of felony rape. He remains held without bond in the Franklin County Jail. He has pleaded not guilty.
Meanwhile, National Right to Life, the nation’s largest anti-abortion group, and its Indiana affiliate have argued that the state’s legislation does not go far enough.
The bill “is proposed on paper, but has no teeth to actually reduce abortions in Indiana by holding those who perform abortions accountable or willfully violate the law with criminal consequences,” Indiana Right to Life said in a statement.