INDIANAPOLIS — Senate Republicans released their plan for the special session that starts Monday. The plan includes restrictions on abortions, with some exceptions.

Here’s what we know so far about Indiana’s existing abortion laws.

What are Indiana’s existing abortion policies?

Article 34 of the Indiana code goes into detail about abortion laws in Indiana. The first part of the article lays out the public policy for the performance of abortions, treatment of the remains, and current bans and restrictions in place.

The policy details that childbirth is preferred, encouraged and supported over abortion in Indiana. To that end, Indiana code states that neither the state nor political subdivisions may make payments for the performance of an abortion unless necessary to preserve the life of the woman. Abortions cannot be covered under health plans, except for those resulting from rape or incest, or if the woman is at risk for death or substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

The code also states that private or denominational hospitals cannot be required to perform abortions. That also extends to all hospital staff, including medical officials.

Indiana code states that hospital staff cannot be required to participate in any step of the abortion process. They also can’t discriminate or discipline anyone based on their moral beliefs concerning abortion. The code also states that telehealth cannot be used to provide any abortion, including the writing or filling of a prescription intended to result in an abortion.

The code also says if the state or agency has wardship or guardianship of an unemancipated pregnant minor, they cannot consent to an abortion unless necessary to avoid the pregnant minor’s death or substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant minor.

There is also code that deals with abortions after viability, or 20 weeks of postfertilization age. In these case, abortions can only happen for reasons based upon the professional, medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s physician, unless otherwise prohibited, if:

  • All the circumstances and provisions required for legal abortion before the earlier of viability of the fetus or 20 weeks of postfertilization age are present and adhered to
  • The abortion is performed in a hospital having premature birth intensive care units, unless compliance with this requirement would result in an increased risk to the life or health of the woman
  • The abortion is performed in the presence of a second physician

What are the requirements for abortions in Indiana?

Indiana code states that abortions are a criminal act, except for during the first trimester of pregnancy for reasons based upon the professional, medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s physician if:

  • the abortion is performed by the physician
  • the woman submitting to the abortion has filed her consent with her physician.
    • consent is not required if a physician judges that the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the woman
  • the woman submitting to the abortion has filed written consent of her parent or legal guardian, if required

The physician also needs to provide information about:

  • who is performing the abortion
  • follow-up care
  • the nature of the abortion
  • the risks and alternatives to the proposed procedure or drug
  • that human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm
  • that objective scientific information shows that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks of postfertilization age.
  • the medical risks associated with carrying the fetus to term.

The physician also needs to provide the probable gestational age including a photo, dimensions and relevant information on the potential survival of an unborn fetus. They also need to make fetal ultrasound imaging and fetal heart tone services available to let the pregnant woman view the image and hear the heartbeat of the fetus.

What are the requirements for drug-induced abortions?

The code states that abortion-inducing drugs cannot be given to pregnant women after eight weeks of postfertilization age. When the drugs are given, a physician must dispense the drug in person and have the woman consume the drug in their presence.

Before a woman takes an abortion-inducing drug, Indiana code states that a physician must examine the woman in person. The physician needs to provide the woman with a copy of the manufacturer’s instruction sheets and require them to sign the manufacturer’s patient agreement form. The physician also needs to provide, orally and in writing, along with other discharge information, the following statement:

“Some evidence suggests that the effects of Mifepristone may be avoided, ceased, or reversed if the second pill, Misoprostol, has not been taken. Immediately contact the following for more information at (insert applicable abortion-inducing drug reversal Internet website and corresponding hotline number).”

The physician needs to retain a copy of the signed patient agreement form, and the signed physician’s agreement form required by the manufacturer, in the patient’s file.

What does Indiana code say about abortions after the first trimester?

After the first trimester of pregnancy and before viability or twenty weeks of postfertilization age, Indiana code says abortions can take place, except when otherwise prohibited, for reasons based upon the professional, medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s physician such as:

  • All the circumstances and provisions required for legal abortion during the first trimester are present and adhered to.
  • The abortion is performed in a hospital or ambulatory outpatient surgical center

After viability, or 20 weeks of postfertilization age, abortions can only happen for reasons based upon the professional, medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s physician, unless otherwise prohibited, if:

  • All the circumstances and provisions required for legal abortion before the earlier of viability of the fetus or 20 weeks of postfertilization age are present and adhered to
  • The abortion is performed in a hospital having premature birth intensive care units, unless compliance with this requirement would result in an increased risk to the life or health of the woman
  • The abortion is performed in the presence of a second physician

Indiana code states that the second physician performing the abortion shall take control of and provide immediate care for a child born alive as a result of the abortion. During and after the abortion, the physician performing the abortion needs to take all reasonable steps in keeping with good medical practice, consistent with the procedure used, to preserve the life and health of the viable unborn child. However, this subsection does not apply if it would result in an increased risk to the life or health of the woman.

If the child is born alive, they will be treated as a person under the law. A birth certificate will be issued certifying the child’s birth, even though the child may subsequently die, in which event a death certificate will be issued.

The woman and, if married, her husband, can state in writing before the abortion that they do not wish to keep the child in the event of live birth. In this case, the child, if born alive, will become a ward of the Department of Child Services.

Before the abortion, the code states that the attending physician needs to certify in writing that in their professional, medical judgment, after proper examination and review of the woman’s history, the abortion is necessary to prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health of the pregnant woman. All facts and reasons supporting this decision need to be set forth by the physician in writing and attached to the certificate.

The code also states that dismemberment abortions cannot happen unless reasonable medical judgment dictates that performing the dismemberment abortion is necessary to prevent any serious health risk to the woman; or to save the woman’s life.

What about partial-birth abortions?

Indiana code states that partial-birth abortions cannot happen unless a physician reasonably believes that performing abortion is necessary to save the woman’s life and no other medical procedure is sufficient to save their life.

What happens before a planned abortion?

At least 18 hours before the abortion, Indiana code states that the pregnant woman will be informed about possible medical help if they decide to go forward with the pregnancy. They also will be told about the possibility of child support from the father. However, in cases of rape, this information can be omitted.

The woman will also be told about adoption alternatives and that Indiana has enacted the safe haven law. They will also be made aware of the possible risks of having an abortion.

The woman will also get information about the Indiana State Department of Health along with an emergency number for the abortion facility. There will also be a form that the woman has to fill out informing them about disposal methods for the abortion and counseling options after the abortion.

The woman will also fill out a form that she was provided the information, was offered to view the ultrasound and hear the heart tone and either did so or not, and that they got the printed materials involved in the abortion process.

The physician will provide the informed consent brochure that includes the name of the person performing the abortion, the number where they can be contacted, and a statement that follow-up care is available.

Indiana code states the fetal ultrasound and heart tone will take place and the woman will view it unless the woman certifies in writing that they don’t want to. The woman can keep the image at no charge.

The physician also needs to ask the woman if she is being coerced to have an abortion. If medical staff have specific and credible information that she is, then the abortion cannot be provided during the 24-hour period after they make a report. However, this period can be waived if the medical official determines that an abortion is necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent substantial and irreversible injury to a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.

They also have to:

  • inform the pregnant woman that coercing a pregnant woman to have an abortion is illegal
  • inform the pregnant woman that a demand by the father to have an abortion does not relieve him of financial support responsibilities
  • provide the woman with information about:
    • assistance
    • counseling
    • protective services offered by social programs and local or state law enforcement agencies
  • provide access to a telephone if she needs to make a private telephone call and access to an alternate exit from the health care facility.

In cases where there is a fatal fetal anomaly, the physician who will perform the abortion needs to tell the woman about the availability of perinatal hospice services; and provide them copies of the perinatal hospice brochure. If the woman chooses to have an abortion rather than continue the pregnancy in perinatal hospice care, the woman needs to certify that they were provided the information.

How the proposed legislation affects Indiana’s Laws

On Wednesday, Indiana Senate Republicans released their plan for the special session, including a bill that would prohibit most abortions.

The proposed legislation would prohibit abortions throughout all stages of the fetus’ development in a pregnant woman’s uterus from implantation until birth except in limited situations. This includes when the abortion is necessary to prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life of the mother or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

Senate Republicans also say the legislation would not affect access to

  • the morning-after pill or any other method of birth control
  • treatment of miscarriages
  • treatment of ectopic pregnancies
  • in-vitro fertilization procedures

They also say it does not create any new penalties for doctors who perform abortions. There is an existing penalty that would revoke the doctor’s license if they perform an illegal abortion.