The State Assembly will soon vote on two bills to further limit abortion and eliminate about 20% of the budget for Planned Parenthood of Indiana. House bills 1205 and 1210 both passed in committee Thursday. They will likely come up for a full vote within the next week or so.

Sparks flew during the committee hearing, when an amendment to 1210 was introduced, with almost no time for the lawmakers to review it. 

“To insert a massive amendment at this point and say we're going to limit testimony and to narrow the opportunity for committee members to make an informed judgment, I'm shocked," Democrat Terri Austin said.  

Fellow Democrat Linda Lawson agreed.

"I think it's unfair to folks who are here.  I also think it's unfair to this committee regardless of whom, I vote no,"  she said, and with that, she and her staffers walked out.

"Before you leave, we have another vote to take on 1205,” the Chairman called out as they neared the door.   

“It doesn't make any difference,” Representative Lawson replied.

And in fact, it didn't, the bill passed 8 to 4 along party lines.

The author of Bill 1210 made no bones about his motives.  

"We've not been able to move pro-life legislation for the last four years of any consequence and many of us feel strongly that we should move it this year," State Representative P. Eric Turner said.   

House Bill 1210 aims to do the following:

  • Eliminate requirements that insurance companies offer abortion coverage in Indiana
  • Prohibit abortions after 20 weeks
  • Provide hospital admission privileges to abortion providers, in case one of their patients has complications after the procedure

Buried in the amendment to 1210, that also passed today, is the requirement that the state recognize that human life begins at the moment of conception.  That determination is a point of controversy throughout the medical field.

Planned Parenthood also said there was misleading testimony given by pro-life advocates. For example, testimony asserting that RU-486, which causes a fetus to abort, is the same as the morning after pill.

"That simply is not true,” Betty Cockrum, Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s President and CEO, said.  “The morning after pill actually prevents a pregnancy.  That's very different than RU-486, which terminates a pregnancy.  There is no medical dispute about that.”

Planned Parenthood said no Federal dollars it receives are used for abortions, as it is.  The organization said funding cuts would affect pap smears, cancer screenings, STD testing and contraception services.  

Cockrum said this legislation will lead to more unwanted pregnancies and abortions.  Advocates of Bills 1205 and 1210 said Planned Parenthood can continue to receive State and Federal funding, if it agrees to stop performing abortions.