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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Bitter pill

Say, remember all that talk about taking a break on the "social issues" and just concetrating on the more important economic issues for awhile? Oh, you silly, this is Indiana, after all. The state has been getting a lot of nationwide attention lately for the "double ultrasound" bill that has passed out of a Senate committee:

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Travis Holdman (R), imposes heavy regulations on clinics and physicians that offer medication abortions, which are generally used to end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks from a woman's last period. It would require women to be presented with the sound and image of the fetal heartbeat before the abortion and to return for a follow-up ultrasound to ensure that she is no longer pregnant and has stopped bleeding.

Dr. Anne Davis, the consulting medical director for Physicians for Reproductive Health, said the requirement would place an undue burden on women seeking to end their pregnancies. "She can do a blood test at any local facility after an abortion to show that the hormone levels are going down as they should, there's no medical reason to make her drive back to the abortion clinic and go through another ultrasound," she said. "This is yet another onerous, medically unnecessary barrier."

It's hard to imagine there ever being a session of the General Assembly in which there isn't a bill or two designed to make getting an abortion harder. They can't forbid abortions, so our lawmakers just nibble around the edges with requirements meant to frustate the women seeking to get one. Sometimes, as in this instance, they say it's to "protect women's health," but they're not fooling anybody. They're trying to make abortions more difficult to get because they do not condone abortions.

This is either acceptable public policy or an unwarranted government intrusion into our private lives, depending on where you're coming from. The best analogy I can think of is smoking. It's still legal, and lawmakers don't think they can actucally outlaw it, so they use the law to make smoking harder and harder to do, forbidding it in more and more places and making tobacco costlier and costlier. Sometimes they say it's to protect innocent parties from secondhand smoke. sometimes they say it's to protect smokers from their bad judgment, but the truth is they don't like smoking so they try to frustrate the smokers.

Does it matter that public opinion has been swinging away from approval of smoking but remains mixed on abortion? I dunno, but it seems to me that you should be accepting of government coercion in both cases or neither case. Both allegedly involve human lives other than the ones being targeted by the law, do they not?