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Bill to ban abortions over disabilities stalls in House

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A bill that would prohibit abortions based on gender or fetal disabilities such as Down syndrome will not receive a committee hearing in the House this session, lawmakers said Wednesday.

House Public Policy Committee Chairman Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, said the committee spent much of this session on proposals to ease Indiana’s gambling laws and lift the state’s ban on Sunday carry-out alcohol sales.

With a Thursday deadline for bills to be voted out of committee, Dermody said he has chosen to focus on other issues that the committee could advance in a limited amount of time.

“We just are focused on a variety of topics and I picked bills that I thought we could move forward with,” he said.

Supporters of such a ban have said the measure is needed because some doctors encourage abortions after a fetus is diagnosed with developmental disabilities.

Opponents question how often doctors actually do that and maintained that such a law would prevent physicians from discussing all options with women after determining a fetus has developmental disabilities.

The Senate voted 35-15 in favor of the proposal in February.

Bill sponsor Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said he doesn’t plan to take any further action with the measure now that it’s stalled in the House, though it could crop up again in future sessions.

“Without having it fully vetted in the house, it’s likely that the discussion will be saved for another day,” he said.

Dermody instead chose to have Public Policy Committee members hear testimony Wednesday on a proposal that would require the State Department of Health to adopt clear rules for how abortion facilities shall dispose of fetal remains.

It would also require health facilities to inform all pregnant women about their right to choose the final disposition of the child’s remains, as well as the options available for burial and cremation, and accessible counseling services.

Dermody said he plans to propose an amendment that will help clarify the definition of fetus in Indiana law since many raised concerns during the Senate hearing. The committee is set to vote on the proposal Thursday.