Situated ironically in the midst of Women’s History Month, are Indiana legislators’ latest attempts to restrict women’s reproductive rights. In 1973, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, establishing a woman’s access to abortion care as a fundamental right. But once again, Indiana elected officials are pushing multiple bills that threaten a woman’s right to make her own, personal medical decisions.
One of those bills, House Bill 1211, would ban the most common form of abortion used during the second trimester, when women may face hard choices due to serious medical issues. The banning of the procedure known as dilation and evacuation, is not the same debate that has recently made headlines in New York and North Carolina. But legislators are using misleading labels and provocative, hypothetical scenarios to score political points. A woman’s health should guide important medical decisions throughout her pregnancy, not political rhetoric and interference.
As both of the OBGYN doctors testifying against HB 1211 explained, most abortions taking place in the second trimester are medically necessary. Politicians are not medical experts and this is not an area where they should be interfering just to score political points.
Dr. Katherine McHugh of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in front of the House Committee on Public Policy, testified that, as a pregnancy progresses, there are circumstances when a woman may need abortion care. “Women who are faced with this consideration are often diagnosed with a medical condition… there are multitudes of conditions that might present themselves and develop throughout the course of pregnancy,” Dr. McHugh stated.
Courts that examined similar legislation have seen this for what it is: a blatant attempt to ban abortion and prohibit physicians from using their best judgment in caring for their patients. Dilation and evacuation bans have been signed in ten states and have already been blocked or temporarily enjoined in eight of those states.
So why are Indiana elected officials continuing to push a bill through the legislature that will undoubtedly be challenged in court?
Indiana elected officials have continuously attempted to chip away at women’s access to reproductive healthcare with bills such as this one, in an effort to make the window of abortion access smaller and smaller. These bills are driven by agendas that elevate religious and paternalistic beliefs over medical evidence. As a result, lawmakers treat women as if they are incapable of making their own medical decisions.
With her doctor’s guidance, a woman must be able to make these personal and often difficult decisions for herself. It is time for politicians to start showing some respect to Hoosier women. Tell your legislators to stop shaming women and to oppose the HB 1211 abortion ban.