INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana abortions plummeted to low double-digits after a near-total ban went into effect over the summer, according to data from the state’s health department.
Abortion clinics stopped providing the procedures Aug. 1, although the ban officially took hold on Aug. 21. The law, which strips clinics of their licenses, includes several narrow exceptions: for the mother’s life or physical health, fatal fetal anomalies, and victims of rape or incest.
Only hospitals or hospital-owned surgical centers can perform abortions. Many hospitals are religiously affiliated and don’t offer abortions at all.
IDOH received 355 terminated pregnancy reports in August. That’s a 66% decrease from the 1,046 filings in August 2022, according to an IDOH annual report.
Under state law, a Hoosier health care provider must file a terminated pregnancy report within 30 days of performing abortion, or within three days if the patient is under 16 years old. That means many of the August reports were for abortions that occurred in July.
The number of filings dropped further after providers filed their last pre-ban terminated pregnancy reports.
IDOH received just 13 filings in September and 12 in October — 98% and 97% decreases from the 737 and 447 reports filed during those months last year.
But abortions didn’t hit zero, in contrast to a widely cited study this month by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that supports access to the procedures.
The institute estimated a 100% drop in abortions to zero in Indiana, but at a 50% uncertainty interval. To generate the estimates, the institute uses a statistical model that combines information from samples of providers with historical data.
“While Terminated Pregnancy reports are not medically necessary, they do reveal what we know to be true: exemptions are a right in name only,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana.
“This threat to our access to health care underscores the importance of Planned Parenthood and Women’s Med currently blocked from providing – safe spaces where patients can get accurate information to make informed choices, unbiased by ideology or fear of political consequences,” Gibron continued. “It’s imperative that patients have options when they are turned away in their most vulnerable moments of need.”
Anti-abortion group Indiana Right to Life didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
When a full quarterly report is issued in late December, Hoosiers will be able to see what exceptions providers cite to perform the procedures, where they’re occurring and more.
Two lawsuits against the ban are ongoing.
One relies on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and several plaintiffs who argue their religions allow or even require abortions in some cases. A federal judge last month dismissed a separate attempt to use that law against the ban.
The other — an amended complaint — draws on the state’s constitution to argue the law’s wording is impermissibly strict and the ban on clinics is unnecessary. A hearing has been set for May.
“The current hospital requirement makes abortion even more inaccessible because only a few hospitals currently provide abortion care, they are concentrated in the Indianapolis region, and they typically do so at much higher costs than abortion clinics, where nearly all abortions occurred before the ban,” said Gibron, whose organization is a plaintiff in the case.
“This can mean patients have increased travel times, harmful delays, even more expensive care, and in dire cases, even death. We also know that patients who meet exemptions allowed under the ban are being turned away from hospitals,” she added. “This is barbaric.”
— The Indiana Capital Chronicle covers the state legislature and state government. For more, visit indianacapitalchronicle.com.