-- Indiana could become the second state to effectively ban the unusual
practice of tattooing eyeballs, after a committee on Monday unanimously
backed a proposal whose sponsor calls it “the grossest bill of the session.”
John Ruckelshaus of Indianapolis says he is not aware of any health-related
issues that have arisen in Indiana from the process, in which ink is
injected into the eye to make the whites change color. However, he wants
Indiana to join Oklahoma, which banned the procedure in 2009, to proactively
avoid the “extremely dangerous” complications that could arise.
proposed the measure following a flurry of news reports last fall about a
Canadian model and body-modification enthusiast experiencing major
complications after getting her eye permanently colored a shade of purple.
A final vote in the
Indiana House is the next step for the bill, which the Senate approved last
month and the House Public Health Committee advanced Monday on a 10-0 vote.
proposal would prohibit what is known as “scleral tattooing,” unless the
person performing the procedure is a licensed health care professional
acting within the scope of their expertise. But that sets a threshold so
high -- further complicated by professional ethics guidelines, which
obligate medical providers to do no harm -- that it amounts to an effective
ban of the procedure.
The bill would
allow for fines of up to $10,000 per violation and authorize Indiana’s
Attorney General to investigate any possible violations.
talked to personally about this issue is adamantly and totally opposed,”
said Dr. Eugene Helveston, professor emeritus of ophthalmology at the
Indiana University School of Medicine.
Catt Gallinger, an
alternative model from Ottawa, said at the time that she lost part of the
vision in the swollen, misshapen eye and was facing the prospect of living
with irreversible damage after she allowed someone to dye her right eye.
with others who testified on Monday, say they are not aware of the practice
being popular in Indiana.
said the bill was a “no-brainer.” He added that the American Academy of
Ophthalmology strongly recommends against the procedure in which could go
wrong and thus cause pain, discomfort, loss of vision, blindness and loss of
David Frizzell of Indianapolis, who is sponsoring the bill in the House,
said by passing the proposal, Indiana could become a model for other states
when it comes to protecting people’s health.
The bill, however,
is not without its critics. Republican Sen. Michael Young, of Indianapolis,
argued that such ban goes against a person’s inherent individual rights,
regardless of whether it’s a good idea.