INDIANAPOLIS – With the state’s near-total ban on abortion set to take effect Thursday, a bipartisan group of Indiana lawmakers want to expand access to contraception.
The proposal would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills or patches to women age 18 and older after administering a health screening. Those patients would not need to see a doctor to obtain the prescription.
State Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville), a retired obstetrician-gynecologist, has pushed for the change for several years.
“States are starting to see a decrease in abortion when birth control is more accessible,” said Fleming, pointing out 24 other states have passed a law similar to her proposal.
Fleming said she plans to introduce a bill next session.
“For some women who work all day, maybe their husband’s a truck driver and they don’t have child care,” Fleming said.
A growing number of Republicans have gotten on board with the idea, including State Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica).
“65% of abortions are women who already have children at home,” Negele said. “So for whatever reason, we’re not getting to them and making sure that they have access to birth control.”
An amendment including this proposal failed by one vote during the special session, with many Republicans voting against it. Those who shared concerns on the House floor said they wanted additional vetting.
“This involves a lot more than it appears on the surface,” State Rep. Brad Barrett (R-Richmond), a retired surgeon who chairs the House Public Health committee, said during the special session August 4. “There’s scope of practice issues. There’s liability issues.”
Negele said she believes more of her Republican colleagues will support the idea next session and help get the bill over the finish line.
“We need to have those discussions because there is a lot of support, as long as it’s not access to children, it’s access to adults,” Negele said.
We reached out to lawmakers who voted against this proposal during the special session. None granted our requests for interviews Wednesday.