INDIANAPOLIS | Citing a desire to protect women's health, Republican Gov. Mike Pence on Wednesday signed into law Indiana's first regulations on abortion-inducing pills and the clinics that distribute them.
"Abortion-inducing drugs can be very dangerous, and must be prescribed under conditions that ensure proper medical care. This new law helps accomplish that goal," Pence said in a statement.
Senate Enrolled Act 371 treats abortion-inducing drugs, such as RU-486, the same as surgical abortions by requiring women seeking either type of abortion to undergo a pre-procedure ultrasound and receive a state-designed "informed consent" brochure featuring color photos of fetuses at various stages of development.
In addition, clinics that provide abortion-inducing pills must comply with the same state-mandated building and equipment standards as facilities that perform surgical abortions, including extra-wide hallways and doors, a scrub room, oversized examination rooms, and a bathroom and drinking fountain in the waiting room.
"I applaud both chambers of the General Assembly for passing this legislation," Pence said. "I believe in the right to life and in protecting the health and well-being of women in Indiana."
Legislative critics of the new law argued it will actually endanger women by making them more likely to turn to unregulated Internet pharmacies to obtain abortion-inducing drugs, instead of jumping through the hoops this measure requires.
The president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, which operates a Lafayette clinic that does not perform surgical abortions but provides abortion-inducing pills along with other health care services, said the organization may challenge the new law in court.
"The additional regulations in this bill are in no way related to 'patient safety,'" Betty Cockrum said. "Legislators really intend to chip away at Hoosier women's access to abortion — and as part of a coordinated national effort, shut down Planned Parenthood's health care centers that also provide preventive care."
A federal appeals court last year struck down a 2011 Indiana law that blocked the state from distributing federal family planning grants to Planned Parenthood.