An Indiana Senate committee on Wednesday approved a proposal to tighten laws on how women can receive the so-called abortion pill even though doctors testified that the measure mandates prescription of a more dangerous higher dosage.
The Senate health committee voted 5-4 in support of the bill that requires that a doctor examine a woman in person before giving her RU-486, provide written information about the physical risks of abortion and to schedule a follow-up ultrasound for her two weeks later. Doctors who don't follow those steps could face a misdemeanor criminal charge if the proposal becomes law.
Supporters said such requirements are meant to help protect the health of the women because of the potential risk of heavy bleeding and other side effects in the days after the drug is taken.
The bill also requires doctors to follow federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines for administering the drug.
Dr. John Stutsman, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and an Indiana University medical professor, told the committee that those FDA guidelines issued in 2000 call for a 600-milligram dose, while studies since then have found a 200-milligram dose is sufficient.
He said the higher dosage requirement would increase the chances of side effects and that he was against setting into law specifics of how doctors should treat their patients.
Bill sponsor Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said he would talk with doctors and others about changing the dosage requirement in the proposal before it is considered by the full Senate.
Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville, who joined the committee's three Democrats in voting against the bill, said she believed the proposal wrongly intervened in the doctor-patient relationship and didn't think the proposal improved patient safety.
The abortion pill proposal follows the Republican-dominated Legislature's passage last year of law aimed at cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions and imposed tighter abortion restrictions. A federal appeals court is considering whether to lift a federal judge's order that was issued in June that blocked the funding cutoff.