IUSM Faculty Statement Regarding Anti-Abortion Law HEA 1337

Indiana University School of Medicine
Office of Diversity Affairs
Diversity Council

IUSM Faculty Statement Regarding Anti-Abortion Law HEA 1337 and Similar Legislation

In 2016, HEA 1337, a bill that criminalizes the provision of safe, legal medical care to women seeking abortion for any prenatally diagnosed disability or other fetal characteristics, such as gender or race, became law. The law also mandates cremation or burial for tissue and may create criminal penalties for investigators obtaining fetal tissues for research purposes.

Physicians, scientists and academicians from all sides of the abortion issue understand that HEA 1337 is not only detrimental to our patients but detrimental to the scientific and medical community to which we belong. As physicians responsible for providing care to the most complex patients in the state, professors educating the next generation of medical experts, and scientists leading inquiry and innovation for Indiana – we oppose this legislation.

We feel this piece of legislation is intrinsically tied to the mission and values of the Indiana University School of Medicine. This law will have a direct impact on the doctor-patient relationship, scientific inquiry, education and training, the safety and quality of women’s care, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors of the state economy in a number of ways that may not have been considered:

Recruitment: Many of our patients require the expertise of highly trained Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialists also known as “High Risk Obstetricians” during their pregnancies. HEA 1337 prevents these physicians from meeting the basic standard of care their specialty requires and prevents IUSM from retaining and recruiting MFMs and other women’s health specialists to Indiana, where the law now stipulates that they can only perform a limited spectrum of their expertise and cannot safely provide the highest quality and standard of care for their patients without facing the threat of criminal penalties.

Health Disparities: Some of our patients will maintain the choice to travel to a neighboring state were physicians are free to partner with women while they make these very tough decisions. Many of our patients will not. Many of our patients lack the resources to access the care needed to manage their pregnancy if it is not accessible in the State in which they live. Laws such as HEA 1337 thereby discriminate against women by targeting reproductive health care decisions and create barriers to accessing care that will have a disproportionate impact on low income women, potentially creating greater health disparities in the state of Indiana.

Diversity and Inclusion: By discriminating against women, HEA 1337 also impacts our ability to create a diverse physician workforce because it impedes our ability to recruit women of reproductive age and/or their family members that will ultimately serve the broader Indiana provider community.

Discovery, Innovation, and the Economy: Furthermore, this law creates barriers to discovery and innovation–innovation that belongs at our university and in our state–by potentially imposing criminal penalties for researchers. HEA 1337 will significantly and negatively affect our partners in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, major players in the state economy. Research using cells from fetal tissues would be banned by this bill. Therefore, all such research would have to be halted in Indiana and moved out of state, costing the university and its researchers hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grant and contracts. It would also cause our IU-collaborating companies to halt major research projects and potentially relocate jobs to states where such research is not prohibited. This would have the effect of preventing new therapies from reaching the market. It would cost the state potentially billions of dollars in revenue resulting from research discovery. And it would greatly affect state employment in the well-paying biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.

Education and Training: Most of the doctors and nurses that care for Hoosiers study and train at Indiana University. HEA 1337 impedes our ability to train nurses, residents and medical students in the full spectrum of counseling and care legally and medically available to women in the US. Not only does this create a substandard educational experience for our trainees, it also has lasting implications for the health and wellness of the population of women they go on to serve after training.

In short, poorly constructed laws such as HEA 1337 interfere with our ability to provide the basic standard of medical care to our patients and serves to increase health disparities in our communities. It also will have a regrettable effect on our research capacity and our collaborative efforts in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. The future of the scientific and clinical workforce in Indiana should be bright and full of opportunity, not limited by short-sighted politics.

Created and endorsed by the Indiana University School of Medicine’s:

Dean Jay Hess

Diversity Council

Faculty Steering Committee

Women’s Advisory Council