Did you see all of the bills that passed?

February 26, 2015

A message from Indiana Right to Life Life President and CEO, Mike Fichter:

As the legislature reaches its midway point for the 2015 session, we have much to be thankful for.  But remember – there is a long way to go for each of these important bills.  Watch for critical updates in the weeks ahead.

Senate responds to ruling, passes definition of abortion clinic 41-8

Sen. Mark Messmer

Sen. Mark Messmer

The Indiana Senate passed SB 546 to define an abortion clinic. This is a direct response to a federal court ruling blocking Indiana from licensing and inspecting chemical-only abortion clinics, such as the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lafayette. Authored by Senators Mark Messmer, Travis Holdman and Jim Buck.  Passed 41-8 and now moves to the House.

See how your state senator voted




 Senate passes ban on abortions based on disability and gender 35-15

Brown and Buzzetti

Sen. Liz Brown and Dr. Lori Buzzetti in committee

The Indiana Senate passed SB 334 to prohibit abortions in Indiana based solely on a child’s disability or sex.  Authored by Sens. Liz Brown, Amanda Banks, and Travis Holdman.  Passed 35-15 and now moves to the House.

See how your state senator voted




House passes baby incubator bill for abandoned babies 94-0

Rep. Casey Cox

Rep. Casey Cox

The Indiana House passed HB 1016 to establish a baby incubator system providing a safe place for persons to place abandoned babies so they will receive emergency care.  Authored by Rep. Casey Cox.  Passed 94-0 and now moves to the Indiana Senate.

See how your state rep voted


Senate passes rules for disposal of aborted babies 43-7

Sen. Amanda Banks addresses Senate

Sen. Amanda Banks addresses Senate

The Indiana Senate passed SB 329 to establish respectful disposal requirements for aborted babies. A former Planned Parenthood staff person testified that babies are regularly flushed down toilets and into Indianapolis’ sewer system.  Passed 43-7 and now moves to the Indiana House.

See how your state senator voted



House passes information bill for disability prenatal diagnosis 97-0

Rep. Ron Bacon

Rep. Ron Bacon

The Indiana House passed HB 1093 to establish the provision of positive information to parents facing a prenatal diagnosis indicating disability. Authored by Rep. Ron Bacon.  Passed 97-0 and now moves to the Indiana Senate.

See how your state rep voted




Senate passes religious freedom restoration act bill 40-10

Senator Brent Steele

Senator Brent Steele

The Indiana Senate passed SB 101 to establish a state version of a religious freedom restoration act.  The bill will help protect pro-life persons, businesses and ministries from being forced to support abortion in violation of faith principles.  Authored by Sens. Schneider, Steele and Kruse. Passed 40-10 and now moves to the Indiana House.

See how your state senator voted



Parental rights bill to return in 2016

Rep. Don Lehe

Rep. Don Lehe

Rep. Martin Carbaugh

Rep. Martin Carbaugh

Rep. Tim Wesco

Rep. Tim Wesco

Honorable mention goes out to Reps. Don Lehe, Martin Carbaugh, and Tim Wesco, all of whom put much effort into proposed legislation to strengthen parental rights with regards to minor children having abortions in Indiana. The topic has secured much interest among legislators and is expected to return in the 2016 legislature after some adjustments. Thank you to all three reps!

Written Testimony of Mary O’Callaghan, Ph.D. in Support of SB 334

February 26, 2015

Testimony of Mary O’Callaghan, Ph.D. as prepared for delivery before the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee hearing on SB 334, Feb. 18, 2015

Mary O’Callaghan

Mary O’Callaghan

Mary O’Callaghan, Ph.D.

Public Policy Fellow, Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame

Prenatal Outreach Coordinator, Michiana Down Syndrome Support Group

Mother to Tommy, age 7, who has Down syndrome

I. Banning abortion due to poor prenatal diagnosis gives the clear and consistent message that we do not tolerate discrimination in Indiana.

 In 2007, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued the statement, as part of a committee opinion, that they “opposed meeting requests for sex selection for personal and family reasons, including family balancing, because of the concern that such requests may ultimately support sexist practices”. The same reasoning applies to requests by parents for selective abortion due to disability; such requests may ultimately support discriminatory practices against those with disabilities. Brenn and Chapman (2009) note that these abortions could “diminish understanding and support for affected individuals and their families and increase the stigma associated with having a genetic disorder” (p. 2155).

II. Banning abortion due to poor prenatal diagnosis looks beyond the short-sighted solution of eliminating people with disabilities and instead allows us to find long term ways to prevent disabilities and develop real treatments.

Prenatal diagnosis had its origins in efforts to treat those with disability. For example, Jerome LeJeune, the French geneticist who discovered the chromosomal basis of Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, was motivated by the belief that Down syndrome could ultimately be cured: “We will beat this disease. It’s inconceivable that we won’t. It will take much less intellectual effort than sending a man to the moon.”   Abortion is a short-sighted solution; it doesn’t treat the disease, it eliminates the patient. Allowing widespread abortion of those with disabilities has shifted resources and attention away from prevention and treatment and has led to heavy investment in prenatal screening. For example, the NIH allotted 18 million for research on Down syndrome in 2014.   The state of California alone, however, has budgeted $117 million this year for prenatal screening.  Finding long term and lasting solutions to disability prevention and treatment is not only a better use of resources, but it is also a humane solution which upholds the dignity of those with disabilities.

III. Banning abortion due to disability sends the clear message to mothers that their child’s disability does not have to be a death sentence.

Mary O’Callaghan at Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee hearing

Mary O’Callaghan at Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee hearing

Allowing abortion in the case of disabilities can put undue pressure on mothers to abort their children. This was evidenced by a recent study reporting that nearly 1 out of 4 women had a doctor who was insistent on terminating the pregnancy after a diagnosis of Down syndrome (Nelson et. al, 2013). It is likely that some doctors convey their own bias towards abortion to the mother.Cavanaugh et al (1995) found that 63 % of obstetricians and gynecologists reported a belief that abortion was justified in the case of non fetal anomalies and 90% of obstetricians and gynecologists reported a belief that abortion was justified in the case of uniformly fatal anomalies. Even in the absence of direct coercion or more subtle influence, many women make decisions based on unfounded fears and limited information. For example, woman who abort their children with Down syndrome cite fears that life will be too hard for them, their family or child (Rapp, 1999). Research shows the exact opposite: a large scale longitudinal study of over 100 families (Cunningham, 1996) reported more positive effects of having a child with Down syndrome than negative , and recent research shows that over 90% of individuals with Down syndrome (Skotko, 2011) and their parents (Skotko, 2011) are happy with their lives.  



Benn, P.A. & Chapman, A.R. (2009) Practical and Ethical Considerations of Noninvasive Prenatal Diagnosis. JAMA, 301(20); 2154-2156.

California Screening Program: Genetic Disease Screening Program (2103). Estimate for Fiscal Years 2013-14 and 2014-15. Department of Public Health.

Cavanagh, D,Martin, D.J., Foley, D.V., Bulfin, J., Bowes, W.A., DeCook, J.L.(1995). Changing attitudes of American OB/Gyns on Legal Abortion. The Female Patient, (20).

Committee on Ethics (2007). Sex selection.: ACOG Committee Opinion No. 360.

Obstet Gynecol, 109:475–8.

Cunningham C.C. (1996). Families of children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 4(3), 87-95.

LeJeune, Jerome (2013) “21 Thoughts”, by Dr. Jérôme Lejeune. ejeuneusa.org/advocacy/21-thoughts-dr-jérôme-lejeune#.VOK2wi7d_4A

Nelson, B.S., Springer, N., Foote, L.C., Frantz, C., Peak, M., Tracy, C., Veh,T., Bentley, G.E., Cross, K.A. (2013). Receiving the initial Down syndrome diagnosis: Comparison of prenatal and postnatal parent group experiences. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 51,(6) 446-457.

NIH funding: http://report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx

Rapp, R. (1999). Testing Women , Testing the Fetus: the Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America. (New York: Routledge).

Skotko, B.G., Levine, S.P., Goldstein, R. (2011).  Self-perceptions from People with Down Syndrome.  American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A: 155:2360-2369

Skotko, B.G., Levine, S.P., Goldstein, R. (2011).  Having a Son or Daughter with Down Syndrome: Perspectives from Mothers and Fathers.  American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 155:2335-2347.

Written Testimony of Ashleigh Moon in Support of SB 334

February 26, 2015

Testimony of Ashleigh Moon as prepared for delivery before the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee hearing on SB 334, Feb. 18, 2015

Photo provided by Ashleigh Moon

Photo provided by Ashleigh Moon

My name is Ashleigh Moon and I am from Kokomo, Indiana. I am the mother of a false positive.  I am here today because I think life is precious and sometimes the facts can be wrong. Eleven years ago a genetic specialist and a high risk ob/gyn gave me the cold hard facts. Our prenatal screening came back abnormal and my pregnancy was showing very unhealthy signs. Our baby was given less than a 5% chance of being born alive and if he survived he had almost no chance of being “normal” So we had a 95% chance of death or a baby with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida, or being mentally disabled.

They gave us no hope! There was no scenario given that this baby could be healthy. The specialist told me I was young, I could have another baby, it would be better to end the pregnancy on my own terms. She said it really isn’t a baby; it’s a mass of tissue, a genetic mistake, a group of flawed DNA. My life would be so much easier if I aborted and I could just move on with my life. The doctor or genetic specialist never told me there was a possibility that my baby would be perfect.

Abortion was never an option for our family. We declined further testing; we didn’t care if our baby was born with a disability or survived only a few moments after birth. I would not be the one that made the choice to end my baby’s life. We took our less than 5% along with all the genetic possibilities, our abnormal test results and decided that as long as our baby was fighting to live that we were fighting for him.

Ashleigh Moon answers questions.  She is a mother who was given several fatal diagnoses and encouraged to abort but her son was born with no disabilities.  With her is Dr. Lori Buzzetti.

Ashleigh Moon answers questions. She is a mother who was given several fatal diagnoses and encouraged to abort but her son was born with no disabilities. With her is Dr. Lori Buzzetti.

He was born prematurely which brought new battles but HE WAS PERFECT, GENETICALLY PERFECT. You can call him a miracle, a false positive, a mystery, or whatever you want, but I call him son. His name is Caleb. I look at him every day and I thank God that we chose life. The world would be missing an amazing, talented, loving boy if we would have listened to the facts and allowed the doctors and specialists to push us to abort. We would have aborted a perfectly healthy baby boy. I have always wondered how many false positives have been aborted. Sadly those statistics are not available and due to the possibility of lawsuits based on aborting a healthy baby we will probably never know.

The tests and the facts can be wrong! I am so very thankful for my false positive, although had he been born with a disability we would love him the same. I don’t think a disability makes you special, it makes you exceptional! Please vote yes for Senate bill 334 and maintain the dignity and humanity of people with disabilities.

Written Testimony of Lori Buzzetti, M.D. in Support of SB 334

February 26, 2015

Testimony of Lori Buzzetti, M.D., as prepared for delivery before the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee hearing on SB 334, Feb. 18, 2015

Dr. Lori Buzzetti

Dr. Lori Buzzetti

Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today.

My name is Dr. Lori Buzzetti and I am a board certified OBGYN. I completed my residency training at Indiana University in 1995 and subsequently went into private practice for 6 years. I then took a teaching faculty position at the St Vincent Hospital OBGYN residency program where I later also became the Associate Program Director. Recently I have left practice to further establish my not for profit organization, So Big. We are in the process of developing advocates, who will walk side by side with pregnant women in need, in order to empower them and to help them navigate their challenging situations.

I am here today to ask you to vote yes, in favor of Bill 334, which prohibits physicians from performing abortions on babies due to their gender or disability.

As obstetricians, we inherently care for two patients at the same time, both mother and child. There are excruciating times in our careers where we have to make the decision to deliver a baby early in order to save the mother’s life, knowing the baby will not survive. Medical Diagnoses that lead us to make these heartbreaking decisions do not include a baby’s gender or disability. In circumstances where we as physicians have had to make life and death decisions in regards to mother and child, we have not had to deal with any legal hindrances in the care of our patients. That freedom however, has allowed us to move some moral boundary lines.

Our society is exhausted these days, physicians included. The amount of knowledge we physicians must know with respect to new procedures, medications and technology is exponentially increasing. In addition to that, reimbursement for medical services rendered is going down, meaning more patients need to be seen in a day in order to keep our practices afloat. Often times when a patient presents with a diagnosis involving a disability in her baby, it brings the flow of patient care to a halt. In suggesting abortion as an option, a physician may think he or she is doing the right thing, as it provides an immediate solution to a difficult and paralyzing circumstance. I would argue though, that it creates a brokenness that runs deep to the core of the human spirit for both the patient and the physician performing the procedure. This brokenness last much longer than the 9 months a woman spends in her pregnancy. I have put in many hours consoling women over the regret they had in undergoing an abortion and I myself am still healing from the two abortions I performed during my residency training at IU, 24 years ago.

Dr. Lori Buzzetti, OBGYN, Indianapolis, testifying before the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee in support of SB 334.

Dr. Lori Buzzetti, OBGYN, Indianapolis, testifying before the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee in support of SB 334.

Often times, women are so overwhelmed by pregnancy itself that when a baby’s disability is added to their life’s situation, the mountain before them seems impossible to climb. As physicians it is in our DNA to come to the rescue and provide a treatment plan. As we are doing this, we need to remember that our expertise and experience in these matters allow us to offer options that are best for both the mom and the baby. If we pause for a moment and find out what is available for our patients, we will learn about services like the perinatal hospice program at St. Vincent Hospital. This is a program that walks a family through the heartache of knowing their baby will not survive long after birth. It provides the family with emotional support to help them prepare for their loss. It is a process that gives dignity to their child’s life and it allows closure for both the family and the physicians.

Part of our role as physicians is to educate our patients about their medical conditions so that they can make informed decisions about the best treatment plan for themselves. During these interactions, patients often teach us about life through their own wisdom and understanding. One particular example of this patient-physician encounter occurred while I was employed at St Vincent Hospital. I was moved by a story of a woman who was pregnant with a disabled baby that she knew would not survive after delivery. Her statement to the doctors caring for her was that she was grateful for the entire 9 months of her pregnancy because it was the only time that she would be able to spend with her child. For me as an obstetrician, it shed new light on my way of thinking.

In closing I ask you to vote yes to Bill 334 so that abortion due to a baby’s disability or gender will be prohibited.

Thank you,

Lori Buzzetti, M.D.

Statement on Death of John Willke, Pro-Life Champion

February 23, 2015

CINCINNATI – Indiana Right to Life joins the pro-life community in mourning the death of John C. Willke. Many consider Willke and his late wife, Barbara, to be parents of the pro-life movement. Reports indicate Willke died unexpectedly at his home on Friday, Feb. 20, at the age of 89.

Indiana Right to Life’s President and CEO, Mike Fichter, issued the following statement:

“Dr. John Willke was a tremendous leader in the pro-life movement. He and his wife, Barbara, were leaders from the beginning. Their educational materials and the work they did through Life Issues Institute made a profound impact on the culture of life. Dr. Willke was a good friend of Indiana Right to Life and we were honored to have him in Indiana on many occasions as together we worked to defend the unborn and uphold the sanctity of life.”

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.


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