SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A proposed ordinance that would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital has stalled in a northern Indiana county.
A St. Joseph County Council committee voted 5-2 Tuesday night to continue to review the proposed ordinance rather than advancing it for a full council vote.
The proposal would go further than a state law that requires abortion doctors without admitting privileges to have an agreement with a local doctor who does, said Dan Herbster, a Republican councilman sponsoring the measure.
The proposal’s supporters say it would protect the health of women undergoing abortions since the doctor would be connected with a nearby hospital in case of complications. Opponents say it is aimed at further restricting the availability of abortions and wrongly singles out one type of out-patient procedure.
Dr. Ellyn Stecker, a family medicine physician in Lakeville, said she believes the proposal would increase the danger faced by women seeking abortions.
“If they have to drive elsewhere, it will increase their cost,” she said. “It will delay the obtaining of the abortion. Every week added in the pregnancy will increase their risk.”
Democratic Councilman Mike Hamann said he believes the county should have the tougher rules because it would add local control — similar to what exists under a similar ordinance in Allen County, which includes Fort Wayne.
“We want to take care of these women that have made this very difficult choice,” Hamann said. “We want someone there who can give her help.”
Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, the doctor who performs abortions at South Bend’s only abortion clinic, currently has an agreement with a doctor with valid admitting privileges in St. Joseph County, said Ken Severson, a state health department spokesman.
Klopfer, who also operates abortion clinics in Gary and Fort Wayne, faces criminal misdemeanor charges of failing to properly report abortions on 13-year-olds in Gary and South Bend. He has said he found it “amazing” that a paperwork error could jeopardize his medical license.
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