Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law a bill that cuts Planned Parenthood state funding and adds other restrictions on abortion.
“It’s a great victory,” said Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference. “This is an achievement we’ve been working towards for a number of years.”
He thought the law offers “a very good chance” to reduce the number of abortions in Indiana.
“That’s probably the most important aspect,” he said.
The law ends all state-directed funding for businesses that do abortions except for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, USA Today reports. It cuts $2 million of the $3 million the Indiana Planned Parenthood organization receives annually in government funds.
The law also makes Indiana the first state to prohibit the use of Medicaid at Planned Parenthood.
“It’s good that our tax dollars don’t have to support an agency that performs abortions,” Tebbe told CNA on May 11.
He credited the “persistence” of pro-life groups and the pro-life community over past years which allowed them to take advantage of the opportunity to pass the legislation.
Daniels was supportive of the legislation “from the beginning,” Tebbe reported.
“There wasn’t a need for him to play a leadership role because there were so many other people involved for a long period of time.”
Daniels, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, attracted attention and some criticism because he called for a “truce” on social issues like abortion and marriage in favor of focusing on fiscal and economic issues.
Though Tebbe said he had no inside information, he thought the remark was “more a tactical matter than substantive” and was intended to address divisions within Daniels’ party.
The new Indiana law has its critics.
The state’s Family and Social Services Administration has voiced concern that the funding restrictions could violate Medicaid policy and endanger $4 million in federal money for family planning.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum said the provision threatened basic health care for Indiana women and will lead to undetected cancers, untreated sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
Gov. Daniels said his administration confirmed that all non-abortion services will remain “readily available” in all 92 counties of Indiana. He has also ordered the Family and Social Services Administration to ensure that Medicaid recipients receive “prompt notice” of nearby care options.
Any clinic affected by the law can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by “ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions,” the governor said.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sought a temporary restraining order against the bill. A federal judge refused to grant an emergency hold on May 11, but will take more time to consider whether the law should stand, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Indiana Right to Life characterized the new law’s provisions as “the most sweeping pro-life initiatives” in the state since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
“This legislation places Indiana on the vanguard of efforts to protect the unborn, to deny public funds to businesses that profit from abortion, and to ensure that women considering abortion have full and factual information about such issues as fetal development and alternatives to abortion,” said the group’s president and CEO Mike Fichter.
Many of these provisions have been on Indiana pro-lifers’ “to-do list,” Tebbe explained.
The new law opts Indiana out of abortion coverage in any state health insurance exchanges required under the 2010 federal health care law.
While the state previously restricted abortion based on the ambiguous standard of “viability,” the law now restricts abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy.
The law requires doctors who perform abortions to provide full information about abortion to women considering the procedure. These doctors must also maintain local hospital admitting privileges in order to streamline emergency access for any women injured during an abortion.
These features will provide more information to women considering abortion, Tebbe said, “and with that we think they are more likely to make the better choice.”