Indiana politicians reach new lows with legislation that risks patient safety and criminalizes health care providers
Indianapolis, IN – On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, the Indiana House of Representatives voted 73 -18 to advance House Bill 1217. This “abortion coercion bill” is redundant and unnecessary, designed only to stigmatize abortion care and limit patients’ ability to get the care they need. Access to abortion is already in grave danger in Indiana thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s imminent ruling on the future of Roe v. Wade, and HB 1217 would add even more confusion and vilification for people in our state seeking care.
Public health professionals oppose these types of anti-abortion laws because anti-coercion policies that single out abortion sidestep the broader issue of domestic and sexual violence, which is the root of coercion. As HB 1217 advances to the Senate for its consideration, the Senate is also moving forward with Senate Bill 399 with a hearing tomorrow, another duplicative and unnecessary bill that makes it more difficult for young people to access abortion care.
The majority of Indiana voters support access to all reproductive health care options, including abortion. Provisions are already in place to protect against coercion and ensure the safety of young people in Indiana. Bills like HB 1217 are just another attempt in a long line of targeted restrictions intended to eliminate access to abortion in Indiana completely.
Statement from Lisa Humes-Schulz, Vice President of Policy & Regulatory Affairs for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates (PPAA):
“Planned Parenthood advocates for healthy relationships — which includes reproductive decision-making and deciding whether to get pregnant and have children — without pressure or manipulation by a partner or politicians. Let’s be clear: HB 1217 puts people in Indiana in more danger, not less,” said Lisa Humes-Schulz, Vice President of Policy & Regulatory Affairs for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “HB 1217 has nothing to do with protecting pregnant people from coercion and everything to do with endangering patient safety and access to time-sensitive essential care. Unfortunately, we know reproductive coercion occurs in many forms. The most common form is actually when partners force people to become pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term by tampering with their contraception or threatening violence. This bill would actually further endanger patient safety and access and we urge the Senate to reject it.”
Screening for coercion is already a cornerstone of obtaining informed consent. Providers like Planned Parenthood already follow the recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that OB/GYNs routinely screen for coercion and counsel patients on harm reduction strategies to improve the health of people experiencing reproductive and sexual coercion. If the legislature was genuinely interested in trying to improve the health and lives of people experiencing coercion, it would pursue protections against all forms of reproductive coercion, including coercion to become or stay pregnant.
Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, Serving AK, HI, ID, IN, KY, WA (PPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating residents and policymakers about reproductive health issues in Alaska, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky and Washington. PPAA lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood's mission, and engages in limited electoral activities.