Curt Smith: Indiana should emulate Texas abortion law

Should Indiana adopt Texas-syle abortion regulations?

Curt SmithThe Texas heartbeat bill is sound public policy worthy of Indiana’s emulation.

Beyond sparking lawsuits surrounding its novel—if not unique—enforcement mechanism, the bill has achieved two significant goals. First and foremost, it has cut the number of abortions in Texas in half since becoming law. Second, it humanizes the child inside the mother’s womb by focusing on a common trait we all share—a beating heart.

Indiana reported 7,756 abortions in 2020, up slightly from 2019. A law that cut that in half would be a dramatic step forward for the pro-life cause championed by wide majorities in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly. Nearly 4,000 more souls per year would become Hoosiers under such a law.

If the Indiana General Assembly takes up a similar bill next year, there will be criticism from the usual suspects. But some pro-lifers also would likely criticize the bill as not going far enough. That’s understandable, but to halve the number of abortions immediately while waiting for further U.S. Supreme Court action in a separate case from Mississippi would be progress.

Some say such interim steps betray the principles pro-lifers espouse. But prudence in politics often dictates incremental steps, forged in the compromises required under our system to win majorities and begin to change underlying policy.

That brings us to the second success of the Texas law. By choosing a simple standard to establish when abortions are banned, cardiac activity, at about six weeks of gestation, the law forces Americans to confront the humanity of the unborn child. It challenges the hard-core, pro-choice position that an abortion at any time is no different from clipping one’s fingernails. It’s just an exercise in getting rid of unwanted human tissue, after all. Well, fingernails do not have a heartbeat.

Of course, this is all caught up in a larger debate before the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Texas law has achieved these two important public-policy victories of reducing abortion and educating the public about the unborn child’s innate human dignity. In so doing, the Texas law’s remarkable outcome is that five justices on the Supreme Court are comfortable with abortion’s being significantly curtailed in America’s second-most-populous state, at least for a time, on the eve of its deliberation in a more sweeping abortion case.

That is prudence and patience, and our model is always Abraham Lincoln, who devoted his life to ending slavery. He took prudent, incremental steps, never betraying the principles, but always mindful of the reality of politics. He articulated this truth so well in an 1860 address in New York City when he said, famously, “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

The pro-life cause must continue to do our duty as we understand it—remain savvy yet strategic, principled yet pragmatic, as we continue to challenge America to its more noble nature by outlawing abortion. The Texas law admirably helps in this effort.•


Smith is chairman of the Indiana Family Institute and author of “Deicide: Why Eliminating The Deity is Destroying America.” Send comments to

Click here for more Forefront columns.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

7 thoughts on “Curt Smith: Indiana should emulate Texas abortion law

  1. Curt Smith forgets the history of why religious folks originally pushed for legalized abortion – it’s an alternative to back alley abortions, women being maimed or killed.

    And the same people who are so against abortion fight so hard against measures that would reduce the number of people who NEED an abortion.

    They fight against increased access to contraception, they fight against people getting educated on how to use it, they fight against making prenatal care or child care more affordable so women can bring a baby to term more easily. And that’s leaving out the perpetual underfunding of the education system, programs to help the poor and less fortunate…

    It makes you wonder how pro-life they actually are. Makes you think it’s more about control and keeping women in their place than actually caring about what happens with a child after it’s born.

    There are two ways to reduce abortions – one, ban the act of abortion and pretend that legalized abortion never happened. Two, reduce the demand for abortion. If there are no unwanted pregnancies, then there would be no abortions save the cases where the mother’s life being at risk. (Which some pro-lifers, the John Jacob’s of the world, are perfectly OK with banning too. They value the fetus more than the mother.)

    The pro-life crowd refuses to admit that if the number of unwanted pregnancies was decreased, using steps like better sex ed and IUD’s, the number of abortions would henceforth be lower. Even though that would be an incremental, prudent step to take… because it would give women control over their bodies. And they just can’t tolerate that.

    Or you could ignore everything I said and just look at Colorado’s success at reducing abortions.

  2. The other side of the coin is taking responsibility for your actions which is a virtue long lost on our American society.

    Spending a day in a NICU or having a premie child will quickly change any human’s mind regarding this topic.

    While I don’t think one person can determine the exact moment, I do know that late term abortions should be banned Nationally. Those who state saving the Mother at the expense of the child late in birth are using straw man arguments with no data to support.

    Further, there is significant data to support a child born 22 weeks and later has a great opportunity at life. Those children should have a legal right be protected.

    Hiding behind my body, my choice isn’t doesn’t pass a humane litmus test when a child is in the third trimester.

    1. Yet as part of the legal changes this article advocates for, abortion carve outs for rape and incest are being removed. When rapists get mandatory 18 year prison sentences, followed by restitution having to pay the woman and/or state the quarter million dollar cost of raising the child, maybe I’d feel differently about that legal change.

      The discussion has nothing to do with the expansion of abortion, it has to do with the standard being changed from 22 weeks to 6 weeks.

      As referenced elsewhere, and previously, if anti-abortion folks are so against abortion, why are they so against other ways to drive down the number of unplanned pregnancies? Why are they not pushing what Colorado did, as opposed to fighting it?

  3. If society wants abortion rates to decrease (which most of us do), birth control must be accessible for women of all ages–especially young women. Colorado has made HUGE advances in this area by providing free and low-cost birth control. As a result, they have seen a significant decrease in both teen pregnancies and abortions.
    Providing access to birth control will allow those who want, to delay pregnancy and hopefully complete at least a high school education and hopefully college or trade school so they an be gainfully employed adults.
    If you don’t want an abortion–don’t get one. But don’t force others to abide by your beliefs. Most women don’t really want an abortion. They would probably LOVE to have their child and live happily ever after. Unfortunately they have found themselves in a situation where they realize their situation (for whatever reason) isn’t right for bringing a child into this world. If they had access to birth control, they might not find themselves in this situation to start with.
    Two things that aren’t acceptable IMHO are late-term abortions and judgment.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}