Bill would require ultrasound for RU-486

Feb. 21, 2013 at 1:56 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Women wanting an abortion-inducing drug would have to have an ultrasound before and after taking the drug under a bill approved by an Indiana Senate committee.

The bill, approved by the Senate panel Wednesday, would require any clinic dispensing the drug known as RU-486 to meet the same requirements as a clinic where surgical abortions are performed, with the exception of physicians' offices, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Although the bill doesn't specify ultrasound as the required procedure -- in which a probe is inserted into the uterus through the vagina -- Dr. John Stutsman, an Indiana University School of Medicine professor and OB-GYN, said that's the procedure the bill would require.

Sen. Travis Holdman, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said it was meant to ensure women's safety. Opponents said it would endanger the lives of women by making the drug harder to get.

When asked why the tighter standards applied only to RU-486 and not to other prescription medicines dispensed in clinics, Holdman said abortion is different because it involves "another human life," The Star said.

Provisions of the bill would require any physician prescribing an abortion-inducing drug to conduct an examination, including an ultrasound, and schedule a follow-up appointment that includes a second ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy was terminated, The Star said.

Stutsman and Dr. Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, also a teacher at Indiana's Medical School, said the measure would require invasive, unnecessary ultrasounds.

In his testimony and in a letter he and Stutsman sent to the committee, Edmonds said there are better methods to determine whether a woman was pregnant after an attempted abortion.

"I can only assume that the ultrasound mandate -- a mandate for a costly, invasive test that confers no medical benefit to the woman subjected to it -- speaks to the lack of clinical understanding and expertise of the authors of the bill," Edmonds wrote. "If not for lack of understanding, I would have to conclude that the mandate speaks to a lack of regard for the bodily sanctity and integrity of Hoosier women at large."

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