July 21, 2022

Indiana Republicans unveil total abortion ban with limited exceptions


Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) called Republican state lawmakers' legislation to ban abortion the “most difficult, polarizing issue that we face in a generation.” - (Eric Weddle/WFYI)

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) called Republican state lawmakers' legislation to ban abortion the “most difficult, polarizing issue that we face in a generation.”

(Eric Weddle/WFYI)

Republican state lawmakers want to ban abortion in Indiana, with limited exceptions in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

Senate Republicans unveiled their proposed legislation, SB 1(ss), Wednesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) called this the “most difficult, polarizing issue that we face in a generation.” He said his caucus’s goal is to promote more adoption and less abortion.

Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) will be the bill's author. She emphasized it will not affect access to contraception or the morning after pill, also known as Plan B.

“This bill does not affect treatment of miscarriages, treatment of ectopic pregnancies," Glick said. "It does not affect in vitro fertilization procedures.”

But people in states with bans similar to Indiana’s proposal have had trouble accessing life-saving medications and treatments that are sometimes used for abortion.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said this is a step back for Indiana.

“Just watch when people get a hold of this piece of legislation and find out that we have an outright ban on abortion in Indiana," Taylor said. "It’s going to get worse.”

There are no criminal penalties in the bill imposed on anyone seeking an abortion. And Bray said the only criminal penalties imposed on a doctor who performs a banned abortion are the ones in current law.

The first public hearing on the bill is Monday.

Republicans also want to couple their abortion ban with legislation that will spend more money for pregnant people, children, and parents.

The Senate's proposed measure, SB 2 (ss), would create a new Hoosier Families First Fund and put $45 million in it.

Bray said that money will be used for organizations that provides services and support to pregnant Hoosiers.

“Access to contraception and pregnancy planning, including the removal of barriers where we can to long acting, reversible contraception – in particular, when the new mother leaves the hospital, so she doesn’t get pregnant again shortly thereafter,” Bray said.

Bray said the money will also be used to support greater access to child care, low-income families with children under the age of 4 and support for foster and adoptive care. The bill would also increase Indiana’s adoption tax credit to $10,000 per child, up from $1,000.

READ MORE: Researchers release 'Hoosier Abortion Access Study' ahead of expected passage of Indiana restrictions

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Taylor said Democrats have been proposing many of these ideas for a long time, only to get ignored by Republicans.

“Where’s support for families and child care?" Taylor said. "Where’s support for families that need assistance just to get by?”

The Senate will have a public hearing on that bill Tuesday.

House Republicans released their own version of a financial supports bill Wednesday. That measure would cost $78 million.

$20 million of that would go towards tax exemptions and credits. The House GOP plan would increase the exemption amount for every child claimed as a dependent, add an additional tax exemption for every adopted child and increase, to $3,000, the state's adoption tax credit.

The House bill also eliminates the sales tax on diapers, something Democrats have long pushed for – only to be rejected repeatedly by Republicans.

The measure's additional $58 million would be directed to boost existing programs, including child care vouchers, nurse-family partnerships and the state's safety PIN grant fund, which aims to reduce infant mortality.

The House bill also expands services covered under Indiana Medicaid and Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 coverage, including donated breast milk, prenatal screenings and the costs of labor and delivery.

In a statement, House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said his caucus shares the Senate's goals.

"Increasing protections for Indiana's unborn while also stepping up our investment in wraparound services to better support new and expectant moms, and babies," Huston said.

House Democratic Floor Leader Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis), however, called the abortion ban "fundamentally cruel" and "not rooted in actual science."

"Protecting the life of the mother without guaranteeing the right to an abortion if a woman’s health is in danger is not legislation that values life," Pryor said in a statement. "Women should not have to wait to be on the brink of death to have access to a safe, routine health care procedure."

The measure appeared to align with the expectations set out Wednesday by Indiana Right To Life, one of the state's most influential anti-abortion groups. But in a statement issued late Wednesday night by the organization, CEO Mike Fichter called the measure a "weak and troubling bill." Fichter said he was particularly troubled by the legislation's lack of enforcement provisions.

"As the bill reads now, the 8,000-plus abortions that take place annually in Indiana would continue unabated in counties like Marion County where the prosecutor has already stated he will not enforce the law," Fichter said.

Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Indiana State Director LaKimba DeSadier said the Senate abortion ban "confirms our greatest fears."

"It’s time the Indiana State Legislature started listening – our futures and our lives are literally on the line," DeSadier said. "We will do everything we can to stop these attacks on reproductive freedom."

Rallies by both abortion rights and anti-abortion groups are expected at the Statehouse Monday.

This story has been updated to reflect the statement made by Indiana Right to Life late Wednesday.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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