Abortion Foes and Advocates Spar Over County Ordinance

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 18, 2010 Updated Sep 5, 2008 at 6:10 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- A controversial ordinance proposal in Allen County pits the need for patient safety against the rights of women to receive full access to abortions.

The effort seeks to boost regulation over a procedure that stirs up so much emotion.

Proponents of an ordinance put before the Allen County Commissioners Friday say change is needed to better protect women from painful complications, but the other side believes there's a more sinister motive at work.

Attorney Jim Howard/Authored Ordinance: " Let me address this issue head on, it's not brought forward to close down abortion clinics, it's not."

Lawyer Jim Howard, a staunch pro-life advocate, wrote the so-called Patient Safety Ordinance, that seeks to ramp up regulation of a handful of outpatient surgeries deemed invasive, though abortions are the ones getting all the attention.

If the measure were approved, doctors performing them in Allen County would have to establish ties with a local hospital or face stiff fines.

Repeated violations could even result in a provider being shut down.

Fort Wayne OB-GYN physician Geoff Cly says better regulation would help doctors doing follow- up care and would hold the original physician more accountable for mistakes.

Geoffrey Cly, M.D./Supports Patient Safety Ordinance: " I question a doctor's own quality if they don't want someone making sure that they're doing good work."

But abortion rights advocates say, abortion doctors are already subject to strict licensing requirements and scrutiny, and that the evidence doesn't support the need for more regulation.

Betty Cockrum/Planned Parenthood of Indiana: " I was taught if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and my message here this morning is largely, it ain't broke."

Jim Howard denies the change would restrict access to abortions, saying instead it's really about ensuring patient quality of care.

But one of the three Allen County Commissioners has turned skeptical about the ordinance.

Linda Bloom/(R) Allen County Commissioner: " I think it's not a necessary situation that the commissioners would get involved, at least Linda Bloom wouldn't."

No vote is expected to take place on this ordinance for at least two weeks.

The commissioners want public input on the issue.

You can either call the commissioners at 449-7555, or send email comments to commissioner@allencounty.us.

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