- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The number of abortions performed in Indiana has declined at a faster pace than the national rate since 2010 as the state has put several laws in place that discourage or restrict women from ending pregnancies.

Reports from the State Department of Health show that the number of abortions in Indiana fell from 10,031 in 2010 to 8,027 during 2013, the most recent figures available. That is a decline of nearly 20 percent, well above the 12 percent national decline a survey by The Associated Press found for the same period.

Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature has adopted laws during that time that ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The laws give the state some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

But Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter said a law requiring that pregnant women be given an opportunity to view an ultrasound image and hear the fetal heartbeat before an abortion, along with a 16-page “informed consent” brochure from the state Health Department that abortion providers must give patients, have had the greatest impact on the decline.

“That’s having a direct bearing on women being fully informed before making an abortion decision,” he said.

Another factor Fichter cites is the growing number of pregnancy resource centers around the state that offer counseling about abortion alternatives.

Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said she welcomed the decline in abortions but believed the state could be doing more to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.

She said 23 Indiana teenagers, on average, become pregnant each day and that she was disappointed a state Senate committee this year rejected a bill that would have had the state health and education departments work together on standards for sex education programs.

“People aren’t comfortable with the conversation,” Cockrum said.

Some of the abortion decline in recent years should also be attributed to the greater availability of emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill, she said.

The medication has been available without a prescription to those 17 and older since 2009, and all age restrictions were lifted in 2013.

Not all of Indiana’s legislative attempts to curb abortions have been successful. Conservative legislators in 2011 pushed through a law that cut off some state funding to Planned Parenthood, but the state later dropped that provision as part of a legal settlement.

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