The last Indiana gubernatorial debate this year focused on health and social issues. And no issue revealed the differences between the three candidates more than a question about abortion and birth control.
The question on abortion mentioned this year’s anti-abortion bill, considered by even some Republicans in the legislature to be too restrictive. Republican candidate Eric Holcomb called himself pro-life, though he said abortion isn’t a focus.
“If legislation like this does come down the pike and make its way to my desk, I will be working with those legislators long before it arrives so that hopefully we can avoid any misimpressions,” Holcomb said.
Democrat John Gregg said he’s always considered himself pro-life but adds he wouldn’t get between a woman and her doctor.
“I have always supported the funding of Planned Parenthood – even though personally being opposed to abortion – because the truth of the matter is all the money that they get from taxpayers goes to provide birth control and health screenings,” Gregg said.
Libertarian Rex Bell, whose microphone cut out during parts of the debate, said abortion issues should be left to the states and not the federal government.
Earlier in the debate, the candidates’ answers to a question about the state’s health rankings became a discussion about the role of government.
Indiana ranks 41st in the country for health and wellness. And Gregg said that’s because the state hasn’t made health a priority. He said basic education can help issues such as infant mortality.
“Sometimes it’s telling mothers not to sleep with their children and sometimes it’s educating them not to smoke,” Gregg said.
Bell said the state can improve health by stopping polluters but there’s only so much government should do.
“As far as the obesity problem, that’s something that we have to look at and say is that the proper role of government or is that something that we can handle as a society,” Bell said.
Holcomb said issues like obesity do concern personal behavior, but he said government can help.
“We need to make sure that there are no food deserts and that’s a local issue that we need to really get at so that folks don’t have to, they’re not restricted to healthy food options,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb also encouraged people to take advantage of existing smoking cessation options. The state ranks 38th in the country for its adult smoking rate.
Watch the Full Debate