Strengthening Indiana’s Pro-Life Laws

By: 
By State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem)

As your State Senator, working to improve the safety of all Hoosiers is one of my greatest responsibilities and privileges. This includes the safety of our most vulnerable – the unborn.

According to the most recent Induced Terminated Pregnancies Report from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) released last year, Indiana’s abortion rate dropped for the eighth consecutive year in 2016 – down 8.5 percent ­from 2015. While this is good news, there is still room for improvement. This past session, I worked to enhance our pro-life laws, and am proud of what we accomplished.

Indiana’s Safe Haven Law allows a parent or guardian who cannot care for their child to anonymously surrender custody of their newborn (under 30 days old) by leaving the infant in a “baby box,” which is a safety incubator maintained by a hospital – as long as there is no evidence of intentional abuse on the baby. When the baby is placed in the incubator, an alarm will sound, and emergency medical personnel will respond and put the child in the custody of the Department of Child Services.

Senate Enrolled Act 340, which I co-authored, provides for the expansion of these incubators at certain fire departments or medical facilities that are staffed 24/7. In circumstances where parents feel they cannot care for their newborn, while we would prefer the child be placed into the arms of another individual, these incubators can protect infants from what could be, in many cases, fatal circumstances.

SEA 340 also establishes new regulations for abortion clinics, including mandatory annual inspections. It requires applicants who wish to open a new abortion clinic to disclose whether they have previously operated a clinic that was closed as a direct result of patient health and safety concerns, and whether staff members have worked at a clinic that was closed as a result of administrative or legal action. These provisions will keep bad actors who do not prioritize the safety of their patients from continuing to open and operate abortion clinics.

Finally, SEA 340 requires abortion clinics, hospitals, and doctors to disclose any complications resulting from abortions to the ISDH. The ISDH will release an annual public report of the cases of complications, removing all identifying information to protect the privacy of the women involved, in order to give Hoosiers access to information about the potential risks of various methods of abortion.

Additionally, I authored Senate Enrolled Act 203, which allows murder or manslaughter charges to be filed if a crime results in the loss of a fetus, and provides that a person who commits a felony crime resulting in the loss of a fetus may receive an additional six to twenty years on their sentence. This does not apply to lawfully performed abortions, but will ensure those who commit crimes against the unborn are held accountable.

I am proud of Indiana for serving as an example for pro-life legislation, and will continue to defend the unborn. 

If you have any thoughts or questions on these or other issues, please contact me by email at Senator.Houchin@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.

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