Indiana, Illinois legislatures consider new abortion laws

March 7, 2011

by Michael Puente and City Room

(Getty Image File/Scott Olson)
Protesters gathered in west suburban Aurora when it was announced Planned Parenthood would build a clinic there

The Indiana House of Representatives could consider abortion legislation this week.

The Indiana Senate approved two bills dealing with reproductive issues. Now, the House could take them up.

One bill would prohibit the state from making contracts or grants with organizations that provide abortions. Hospitals would be exempt.

Another bill would require a doctor to tell any woman who is seeking an abortion that life begins at conception, and that her fetus might feel pain.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana calls the bills a bills amount to a legislative assault on women. The group's planning a rally at the statehouse Tuesday that's meant to kill the proposals.

It's not clear whether there will be debate, though. Indiana Democrats are in a legislative boycott related to labor unions.

Meanwhile, a proposal in the Illinois statehouse would require doctors to ask pregnant women if they want to see their ultrasound images. This would apply to women at clinics where abortions are performed.

If a woman says no, the measure would require her to sign paperwork saying she declined.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lorie Chaiten said requiring a woman to sign off on an ultrasound is insensitive.

"For a woman who has survived a sexual assault, but has become pregnant as a result of it, that offering of viewing the ultrasound and then requiring her to sign a statement that she doesn't want to see it can be traumatic and cause her and her family pain," Chaiten said.

Patients would also have to wait an hour after the ultrasound before doctors can perform the abortion. Chaiten said that waiting period could end up putting the woman's health at risk.

But supporters say the point is to prevent women from making an uninformed decision.

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