In the context of this legislation, “abortion” does not include termination of a pregnancy intended to produce a live birth, intended to remove a dead fetus, or “intended to terminate a fetus where the fetus suffers from an irremediable medical condition that is incompatible with sustained life outside of the womb, regardless of when the child is born.”
“Fetus” is defined as an “unborn child” throughout all stages of the fetus’s development in a pregnant woman’s uterus from implantation until birth. (Bit of a drafting faux pas there, using the word in the definition of the word.) In any event, it’s clear enough that the legislation is intended to apply to a fertilized egg once it has implanted in the uterus until the birth of the child. As I understand it, implantation is going to be something like a week after fertilization and after the zygote has become a blastocyst. The definition of “pregnancy” in this legislation also hinges on implantation.
“Abortion,” then, is the termination of a human “pregnancy” where pregnancy is defined as having a living fetus implanted in the woman’s uterus. Abortion is made “unlawful” unless it’s performed by a physician either surgically or through a drug. If surgical, the abortion must be performed in a hospital or an ambulatory outpatient center. If drug-induced, the abortion must be after an in-person examination and be consumed in the presence of the physician. The pregnant woman must file a consent with the physician and, if a minor, the consent of her parent or guardian. Furthermore, an abortion is “unlawful” unless either: 1) the abortion is (in the reasonable medical judgment of the physician) necessary to prevent a permanent impairment of the life of the pregnant woman; or 2) the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and the woman signs an affidavit under penalties for perjury “attesting to the rape or incest.” Abortions performed after 20 weeks are required to have a second physician present who will “take all reasonable steps in keeping with good medical practice” to preserve the life and health of the “viable unborn child.”
I don’t know all the twists and turns in current abortion legislation, so maybe the text of the bill isn’t telling me everything I need to know; but if I’m reading the new IC 35-41-3-12 correctly, a pregnant woman can perform an illegal abortion on herself without it being a crime. “It is a defense to any crime involving the death of or injury to a fetus that the defendant was a pregnant woman who committed the unlawful act with the intent to terminate her pregnancy.” A person who helps her can defend against criminal charges arising out of the death or injury to the fetus except for the criminal charges of unlawful abortion or feticide, a Level 3 felony.
I think this is bad legislation because I believe that a woman’s reproductive rights deserve a great deal more consideration. The fact that rape, incest, and unimplanted eggs are excepted underscore that most people do not believe that a fertilized egg is morally equivalent to a baby. The closer a fetus gets to viability and birth, the greater moral weight people generally assign to it, and the more that weight should be balanced, under the law, against a woman’s reproductive rights. (Even that last bit is a little too easy for me to say, since I don’t have a uterus.) It’s a line drawing problem and one that Roe sought to address through its trimester system. The first trimester was basically to be unregulated, second trimester could impose “narrowly tailored” restrictions, and the third trimester could basically ban all abortions unless necessary to protect the woman’s health.
These additional curtailments on the reproductive freedom of women in Indiana would be imposed beginning on September 1, 2023.