Indiana abortion clinics could face rough future under proposed restrictions

It’s a small sector of the medical industry that could be on the brink of extinction.

Abortion clinics in Indiana are now in the crosshairs of the Indiana General Assembly and are likely to face a sharp drop-off in business if current legislation passes that would significantly restrict access to abortion.

Senate Bill 1 is advancing through the Legislature’s special session and seeks a sweeping ban on abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life (but not health) of the mother.

(IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Last year, abortion clinics and hospitals in Indiana performed 8,414 abortions, up 8.5% from 2020. The vast majority, about 98%, were performed in seven free-standing abortion clinics in five Indiana cities. Only about 2% were performed in hospitals.

With the Legislature now set on banning most abortions, the future of at least some of those clinics and the services they offer is in question.

Some say small, independent clinics, which primarily offer abortions and contraception, are especially vulnerable. Under SB 1, only hospitals and licensed surgery centers will be able to perform abortions.

Katie McHugh

“When the clinic’s only source of revenue is banned, then there’s no ability for the clinic to stay open,” said Dr. Katie McHugh, an obstetrician-gynecologist who works at Women’s Medical Center on Indianapolis’ east side. “It will spell the death of these independent clinics.”

The Indianapolis clinic, which has been in operation about 25 years, will close if the proposed restrictions become law, said Valerie Haskell, a clinic spokeswoman. It has two physicians and about 10 employees.

“We will not remain open, as our entire practice is committed to providing pregnancy terminations,” Haskell said in an email to IBJ. “We do not offer other medical services.”

The two other independent abortion clinics in Indiana—Clinic for Women in Indianapolis and Whole Women’s Health in South Bend—did not respond to IBJ.

From 2015 to 2020, more than one-third of all independent abortion clinics closed their doors, including two in Indiana, according to the Abortion Care Network, a national association for independent abortion care providers based in Washington, D.C.

The group says more than half of all abortions provided in the United States (58%) were performed in independent abortion clinics. In Indiana last year, that figure was 48%.

“In fact, independent clinics are sometimes the only available provider of abortion in a given state or region,” says the group’s 2020 report, called “Communities Need Clinics.”

(IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

‘Our patients still need us’

The other four abortion clinics in Indiana are owned by Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s oldest and largest providers of abortions and reproductive health services.

Planned Parenthood acknowledged that it will likely have to discontinue or sharply curtail abortion services if SB 1 passes with restrictions intact. But the group said it has no plans to close any of its Indiana clinics, located in Indianapolis, Bloomington, Lafayette and Merrillville.

Rebecca Gibron

“There’s no way we’re handing a win to the legislators in this building, or the anti-abortion activists, by shuttering any of our health centers,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, in an interview at the Indiana Statehouse following a rally Monday by abortion-rights supporters.

She added: “Our patients still need us for a full range of reproductive and gynecological health care. So, we still are going to be here to provide care to our patients in all of our clinics.”

Planned Parenthood offers tests for sexually transmitted diseases, Pap tests, cancer screenings, condoms and oral contraceptives, in addition to abortion services. The group’s annual report doesn’t break down revenue by category, so it’s unclear how significant abortion revenue is to the bottom line.

Gibron’s district serves Indiana, Kentucky, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho and Washington state. It was created through a merger in 2019 between Indianapolis-based Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which had suffered multiple years of budget deficits and clinic closures, and the Seattle-based Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands.

The merger allowed the group’s Indiana and Kentucky district to tap into the wealth from donors in Seattle, who were looking for a way to make a greater impact with their dollars. The western chapter had a budget more than four times the size of the Indiana and Kentucky chapter.

The combined chapters have about 600 employees, including about 150 in Indiana.

Thousands of demonstrators filled the Statehouse corridors this week to support or oppose abortion rights. More than 60 people testified about SB 1 over two days during Senate committee hearings, but no one spoke in favor of it. Abortion-rights advocates, including about a dozen physicians, said the bill would hurt women’s access to important health care options, including some that could help improve their health.

Anti-abortion advocates, also including some physicians, said the bill did not go far enough to restrict abortion and did not provide sufficient enforcement.

Following the testimony, the Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure amended the bill to provide that doctors who perform an abortion—except in the cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities or to protect the life of the mother—could face one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The amended bill also says victims of rape or incest will have narrow windows to get an abortion: 12 weeks after fertilization for girls 15 years and younger, and eight weeks after fertilization for girls and women 16 or over.

The committee voted 7-5 to advance the bill to the full Senate, which is debating the bill this week.

‘Political posturing’

Indiana Right to Life, the state’s most influential anti-abortion group, told IBJ Tuesday that the original bill would not affect abortion clinics’ ability to stay in business.

Mike Fichter

“Any announced closures are pure political posturing,” the group’s president, Mike Fichter, told IBJ in an email. “Indiana’s law remains unchanged and SB1 as it now stands would have minimal impact on abortion clinics.”

And after the Senate struck down a proposed amendment on Thursday evening that would have eliminated rape and incest as exceptions from the abortion ban, Indiana Right to Life said it remained opposed to SB 1, saying it contains a “vague life-of-the-mother exception that will be easily exploited to cover most abortions.”

The group also pointed to other provisions in the bill it objected to, such as any requirement that claims of rape be reported to police and language that it said allows abortion of fetuses with disabilities.

“We did not wait 50 years for the full reversal of Roe vs. Wade for this,” Fichter said in the statement.

It’s difficult to say how much money abortion clinics in Indiana pull in every year. The price of abortions at Planned Parenthood can cost “up to $750,” according to the organization’s website.

Using that as an upper price limit, Planned Parenthood could have brought in up to $3.2 million last year for the 4,268 abortions it performed in Indiana.

GoodRx, a company that tracks prescription and health care costs, reports that an abortion can cost anywhere from nothing out of pocket to more than $1,000, depending on the type of care and the stage of pregnancy, among other factors.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average national cost of an abortion at 10 weeks is $500 and increases to an average of $1,195 at 20 weeks.

Indiana law currently allows abortions up to 22 weeks after the last menstrual period.

The price of an abortion at Women’s Medical Center in Indianapolis is $600 to $900, depending on the gestation stage and the method chosen by the patient, said McHugh, an OB-GYN there.

The clinic typically sees 20 to 30 patients a day, she said, but the number has risen in recent months to as many as 40 a day as some surrounding states, such as Ohio, have already placed sharp restrictions on abortion.

“Just yesterday, I saw patients from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee,” McHugh said in a recent interview. “I saw one patient from Texas. And in the last week, I saw a patient from Louisiana.”

Now, if SB 1 becomes law, those patients will have to travel to a state with fewer restrictions, such as Illinois, New York or Minnesota, she said.

“You are not going to ban abortions,” McHugh added. “You are just going to make patients travel farther to get one.”•

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12 thoughts on “Indiana abortion clinics could face rough future under proposed restrictions

  1. Quote: “You are not going to ban abortions,” McHugh added. “You are just going to make patients travel farther to get one.”•

    Good. Maybe that will give them more time to think about what they are doing to themselves and their baby…and to consider what will surely be their own future emotional problems years later as they grope with having paid to kill an innocent life.

    The tone of this article, being business and profit motivated, is disgusting. At least IBJ had the decency to use a photograph of Pro-Life demonstrators in the statehouse atrium this past Tuesday, July 26. I was there with my big, new, professionally-made sign that said: All Rights Begin With THE RIGHT TO LIFE. Think about it.

    1. Bob – the immense cost of raising a child won’t be changed one bit. Fix that and do work to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and you will have less demand for abortion.

      Unless, of course, it’s not really about the babies and it’s not really about abortion. Maybe it’s about imposing values and beliefs on others.

    2. Joe B – Precisely why I try to remain ideologically consistent and remain fundamentally pro-choice within a reasonable time frame. And the first trimester is a reasonable time frame across most of the world, minus those few countries that had radically generous timeframes that include significantly later points in the pregnancy, of which the US is one.

      In terms of “imposing values and beliefs on others”, to remain ideologically consistent, I assume you feel the same way that no person should choose between their livelihood and a vaccine? Or, for that matter, weren’t a bunch of appointed black robes “imposing values and beliefs on others” when they decided that they and not the states (through elected legislators) should make a decision that had no constitutional reference beyond “right to privacy”? If you’re with me there, then you’re the exception not the rule–most pro-aborts think it’s entirely reasonable to force a dubious vaccine on others, for a disease with a 99.7%+ recovery rate. And most of these “power to the people” leftists will inveigh against “states’ rights” if they don’t like the outcome. Which is a major reason why I feel next to no sympathy for people who wear shirts that say “abortion is healthcare” besides the fact that it clearly isn’t. With medical advancements, the number of medically necessary abortions is down to about one every few years (out of all abortions, not just those where the fetus is likely to die at birth). Besides, caesarian sections are significantly less medically invasive–less likely damage to the woman’s body–than abortions. It’s not healthcare any more than a face lift is healthcare.

      I really love the “unwanted children are added social costs” argument…to which the solution is: kill ’em? Sure seems like it. Using that logic, can we send the non-working poor to the gas chambers? What about adults with disabilities that prevent them from contributing economically?

      I’ll concede that there are some who are “imposing values” and relish this control. But given that sizable numbers of women are also resolutely pro-life (“don’t see a lot of men in the above photo”), we might also have to concede that abortion is the snuffing of a human life, as defined by the science that the left pretends to extol consistently. But isn’t anymore than consistent than the creationists and other Bible Beaters.

      Much like the once reliable WSJ, the IBJ is increasingly as sloppily partisan as the junk news sites that it cites. Come on, IBJ staffers, if you’re going to pull “news” sources from the Washington Post, you should at least draw from its right-wing counterpart: Breitbart.

    3. Bob – The medical industry is going to face a huge reckoning on a lot of questionable practices, the COVID/Pfizer grift not being the least of them. (As is the case with most of them, the legacy media has given a huge boost, and has actively sought to discredit physicians who dare speak out.)

      I’m more pro-choice than you are, but I certainly recognize that taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood is “imposing values and beliefs on others” just as much as stringent anti-choice legislation can be.

      But let’s keep in mind, in 2022, it is also currently fashionable for doctor’s to prescribe hormone blockers and hormone doses of the opposite sex to gender confused teenagers (and sometimes younger than teens), while tens of thousands of teenagers (mostly girls) are getting mastectomies and oophorectomies with no counseling or exploration of less invasive alternatives–because the practice is lucrative.

      There’s gonna be hell to pay when the de-transitioners start class action lawsuits. At least until that point, we’re reducing the number of abortions by reducing the number of people who can conceive. A Pyrrhic victory.

    4. So I’m supposed to answer your questions yet you never answer mine.

      I asked for the Indiana Democrats who were asking for abortion-by-choice to be legal up to the moment of birth, since those were the folks who were, supposedly, reluctantly, pushing you to support Indiana Republicans who aren’t fighting about a zero-week abortion ban, they’re fighting about the rape and incest provisions. Silence.

      A reminder, Indiana Democrats are the ones who introduced a 15 week abortion ban proposal just this past week. Shot down 33-13.

      I asked for what news sources I should be looking at, since everything is awful. Silence.

      Goes both ways, ya know.

      The solution to the unwanted children argument is simple … fund it correctly. We have the resources. We know Indiana’s a not-great state to be a pregnant woman. Why not fix that instead of contributing to inflation with what we are doing if we are truly pro-life, if we actually care about mothers and babies? A reminder, I’m the person who’s all for a first trimester rule coupled with a real increase in women’s health spending. The current amount – $55 million-ish – isn’t nearly enough.

      I mean, we found $2 million for something called “Real Alternatives” that’s gotten in trouble in other states. Our contract with them is so generous they don’t even have to provide written reports of how things are going with taxpayer dollars.

      Why are Indiana Republicans listening to the clown in charge of Indiana Right to Life, who insists that SB1 not only will allow most abortions to continue in Indiana, but also claims that we don’t need more government help, Hoosiers will step up and start supporting all these new moms and babies after 50 years of not doing so?

      The only conclusion I can come to is that they want people to be poor and broke and with no place to turn other than the local church. Which, last I checked, isn’t exactly thriving with the means to help lots of people … the only churches I see growing are Burmese denominations. Or, maybe their religious beliefs are that sex is only for procreation in a heterosexual marriage, and if you’re not in that situation, you get what you get and deserve with the consequences. I welcome other conclusions.

      As to your other “point”… no one has been forced to choose between an occupation and a vaccine. An employer or a vaccination? Sure. But if you’re in the medical field, you’re already forced to get vaccinated for the all kinds of shots, and yearly for the flu. You already made that choice to submit to mandatory vaccinations when you entered the field.

      Given the job market, I seriously doubt anyone who chose not to get vaccinated struggled to find work. I know of folks who chose not to get vaccinated and found remote work at other companies that came with a pay increase to boot.

      The entire “the COVID shot was different” is weak sauce, as was the “religious objections” argument. Amazing how many people decided what they saw on Facebook was their new faith. “Dubious vaccine”. That’s adorable you think that. I’m sure the proof you’d post is even better.

      Oh yeah, one more thing.

      “ With medical advancements, the number of medically necessary abortions is down to about one every few years (out of all abortions, not just those where the fetus is likely to die at birth).”

      Show me the stats on that.

    5. No it isn’t JM. And it’s less so with each passing year, and this is precisely why I’m so happy watching pro-choicers lose. Even as I intend to vote out the extreme no-exception GOPers.

      Women aren’t oppressed, and women’s decisions depend on their eggs getting fertilized by the male gamete, which happens voluntarily 99% of the time. Heck, most anti-abortion laws target the abortion provider more than the woman, so many men can still be the ones facing prison time…the same sex that has no reproductive rights whatsoever. Among the many reasons aren’t oppressed.

      Trying to equate abortion to the removal of cancerous tissue has emboldened the pro-life movement. Abortion is legal homicide, far closer to manslaughter but with pre-conception (IOW, basically “murder”) and I’m willing to allow it up to a point because of the need for women’s bodily autonomy. But calling it healthcare is precisely how we’ve gotten to the point that nine-month old babies are getting dismembered in self-proclaimed progressive US states.

    6. Sure Joe. I’ll give you stats. Not that it matters to people smugly steeped in moral certitude. I’ll waste the 10 minutes it takes.

      Here’s a figure from the not-exactly-conservative Brookings Institution that shows that abortion is not a common strategy rescuing impoverished women. Those with incomes below the federal poverty line have a low rate of choosing to abort (8%) while those with incomes 400% higher than the FPL choose to abort quite frequently (32%). So the notion that this is primarily jeopardizing poor women isn’t true; it’s jeopardizing affluent women who don’t want to use birth control and have abandoned any notion of a moral compass telling them that abortion snuffs out a human life. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/26_class_gaps_unintended_pregnancy.pdf

      And we know that most abortions aren’t based on saving the woman’s life because of stats provided by the even-less-conservative Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion org that wants to put as good of a sheen on women’s right to choose as possible. By their own confidential surveys, about 1.5% of pregnancies are prompted by rape and incest combined. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/article_files/3711005.pdf

      And the state of Florida (which has maternal health stats below the national average, but still legal abortion at this point) reported in 2021 that 119 out 79,817 total abortions were based on potentially life-threatening conditions facing the mother. That’s 0.0015%. https://ahca.myflorida.com/mchq/central_services/training_support/docs/TrimesterByReason_2021.pdf

      Maybe we should take the words of Dr. Guttmacher himself way back in 1968: “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal disease such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save the life.”

      Abortions are virtually never medically necessary. They are mostly elective.

      As for your final point regarding forced vaccines, are you trying to play a semantic game in distinguishing “vaccinations” from “vaccines”? Maybe Indiana is less fascistic than most blue states (we already knew that), but 70K healthcare workers in New York state lost their jobs because they refused to get the jab. And you’re okay with that. Awfully rich hearing your comfort with “imposing values and beliefs on others” when you agree with the imposition. Rules for thee, not for me. Those of us who’ve been on IBJ awhile (I was a lurker for years before an old colleague let me take over his account when he left the state), know your ties to the pharmaceutical industry. I guess you have a financial incentive in forcing people to do unethical things. Dr. McHugh admits her financial incentive too–so at least you’re in good company.

    7. Joe–

      IBJ doesn’t seem to like it when we include direct URLs, so I’m going to have to eliminate the hyperlink through “(dot)com” instead of “.com”

      Anyway, I’ll waste the 10 minutes it takes to give you stats. Not that it matters to people smugly steeped in moral certitude. Here’s a figure from the not-exactly-conservative Brookings Institution that shows that abortion is not a common strategy rescuing impoverished women. Those with incomes below the federal poverty line have a low rate of choosing to abort (8%) while those with incomes 400% higher than the FPL choose to abort quite frequently (32%). So the notion that this is primarily jeopardizing poor women isn’t true; it’s jeopardizing affluent women who don’t want to use birth control and have abandoned any notion of a moral compass telling them that abortion snuffs out a human life. https(colon)//www(dot)brookings(dot)edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/26_class_gaps_unintended_pregnancy(dot)pdf

      And we know that most abortions aren’t based on saving the woman’s life because of stats provided by the even-less-conservative Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion org that wants to put as good of a sheen on women’s right to choose as possible. By their own confidential surveys, about 1.5% of pregnancies are prompted by rape and incest combined. https(colon)//www(dot)guttmacher(dot)org/sites/default/files/article_files/3711005(dot)pdf

      And the state of Florida (which has maternal health stats below the national average, but still legal abortion at this point) reported in 2021 that 119 out 79,817 total abortions were based on potentially life-threatening conditions facing the mother. That’s 0.0015%. https(colon)//ahca(dot)myflorida(dot)com/mchq/central_services/training_support/docs/TrimesterByReason_2021(dot)pdf

      Maybe we should take the words of Dr. Guttmacher himself way back in 1968: “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal disease such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save the life.”

      Abortions are virtually never medically necessary. They are mostly elective.

      As for your final point regarding forced vaccines, are you trying to play a semantic game in distinguishing “vaccinations” from “vaccines”? Maybe Indiana is less fascistic than most blue states (we already knew that), but 70K healthcare workers in New York state lost their jobs because they refused to get the jab. And you’re okay with that. Awfully rich hearing your comfort with “imposing values and beliefs on others” when you agree with the imposition. Rules for thee, not for me. Those of us who’ve been on IBJ awhile (I was a lurker for years before an old colleague let me take over his account when he left the state), know your ties to the pharmaceutical industry. I guess you have a financial incentive in forcing people to do unethical things. Dr. McHugh admits her financial incentive too–so at least you’re in good company.

    8. Yet again with the doxing, and not for the first time. Do you always resort to that or have I just reached the echelon of “too hard to debate, so I’ll fight dirty”? Be better.

      By the way, your issue is multiple hyperlinks in a single post sends things off to be reviewed by the admins.

  2. “When the clinic’s only source of revenue is banned, then there’s no ability for the clinic to stay open,” said Dr. Katie McHugh, an obstetrician-gynecologist who works at Women’s Medical Center on Indianapolis’ east side. “It will spell the death of these independent clinics.”

    Translation: abortion is a revenue source for this clinic, and Dr. McHugh, putting adult women who the majority of the time voluntarily engaged in activity that made them pregnant, sees unborn children as nothing more than a waste product, of which the removal is financially lucrative. Because I support first-trimester abortion, I concede that I allow for lawful homicide…a morally weighty judgment that fully justifies the charged debates that we’re having. But I’m not sure you’d get that with McHugh since she shows no evidence the unborn even factor into her moral considerations. It’s just money and out-of-work abortionists.

    “We will not remain open, as our entire practice is committed to providing pregnancy terminations,” Haskell said in an email to IBJ. “We do not offer other medical services.”

    Sort of makes Planned Parenthood seem diversified and horizontally integrated! At least the PPs perform pap smears. These Women’s Medical Centers are about as much a “medical center” as the Church of Scientology is a “church”.

  3. Abortion is health care. Period. Most women don’t WANT to get an abortion. I would bet my next paycheck that if surveyed, most women seeking an abortion would be thrilled to be able to keep and raise their child. I would venture a guess that most of the younger pregnant ‘girls’ keep their babies. It is probably the more mature women whose fetus has a severe issues and/or they simply would not be able to take care of the child due to financial and resource reasons. This is not an issue for politicians to decide or push their own religious beliefs. Leave women alone to make their own decisions. Support them emotionally with counseling. Don’t make their decision for them. You don’t know their situation or their pain.

  4. “We will not remain open, as our entire practice is committed to providing pregnancy terminations,”

    I guess this eliminates the women’s reproductive issue.

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