Editorial: Impact of abortion ban demands review

When Indiana punches above its weight class or fixes government missteps, it’s usually because the state’s most influential corporate citizens have helped lead the way.

In the 1960s, J. Irwin Miller, the longtime CEO at diesel engine maker Cummins, was one of the strongest corporate and religious supporters of the civil rights movement.

In 2015, major employers across the state revolted against the state’s misguided Religious Freedom Restoration Act and secured a change that specified the law did not authorize discrimination against LGBT customers, employees and tenants.

Earlier this year, Eli Lilly and Co. CEO David Ricks boldly called on the state to improve its education system and reduce health care costs if it wanted to remain economically competitive in bids to attract new jobs and corporate investment.

This history of corporate leadership is what makes it so confounding to understand why Lilly and Cummins didn’t step more squarely into Indiana’s recent debate on abortion rights until after the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Eric Holcomb had already enacted a near-total abortion ban.

While both companies likely were making their opposition known behind the scenes (Cummins acknowledged as much), they waited until after the law was passed to publicly issue statements.

Just hours after Holcomb signed Senate Bill 1 into law, both companies issued statements saying the measure would limit the ability to attract and retain a diverse and talented workforce in Indiana. Both said the new law also would cause them to look to other states for growth opportunities, with Lilly being a bit more insistent on that front.

“Given this new law, we will be forced to plan for more employment growth outside our home state,” Lilly said.

Many smaller entities expressed similar concerns before the Legislature took final action. Several hundred companies signed a petition circulated by the American Civil Liberties Union opposing the abortion ban.

But without Indiana’s corporate behemoths publicly joining the fight, the opposition didn’t hold much sway with GOP lawmakers set on passing new abortion restrictions in a hurried two-week special session.

We’re not suggesting that public opposition from Indiana corporate giants would have stopped the GOP’s anti-abortion freight train, or that it should have been halted altogether.

But we do think a more organized, united and visible corporate front might have slowed the rush enough to allow for a thoughtful debate that more fully took into account the new law’s impact on women, health care providers and the state’s economic future.

Instead, Indiana ended up with a rushed law that seemed to please few, allowing narrow exceptions to the abortion ban for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly, and to protect the life or health of the mother.

Abortion-rights supporters said the restrictions went too far, while anti-abortion purists said it didn’t go far enough. And often lost in the debate were the law’s potential economic impacts on the state.

If Indiana’s largest corporate citizens truly believe the effects will be as severe as they’ve described, they need to loudly and publicly tell the Legislature to fix the law when lawmakers reconvene in January.•

__________

To comment, write to ibjedit@ibj.com

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.

3 thoughts on “Editorial: Impact of abortion ban demands review

  1. Quote: Abortion-rights supporters said the restrictions went too far, while anti-abortion purists said it didn’t go far enough. And often lost in the debate were the law’s potential economic impacts on the state.

    OMIGOSH, there might be a financial price to pay for doing The Right Thing! We can’t have that, can we? First and foremost is to genuflect at the altar of The Almighty Dollar, the right to life of the unborn be damned!

    And we wonder why there is so much indiscriminate violence in today’s culture. Look in the mirror, all you pro-abortionists…especially those who would happily put a dollar price on the slaughtered remains of the innocents.

    Disgusting.

  2. I am weary of woke corporations trying to twist the arms of politicians to meet the personal preferences of their board members. Aside from the corporate speech that is regulated by campaign finance laws and lobbying laws, corporate leaders have one vote, just like everyone else.
    When you come up for air from your tirade, explain to me how it is appropriate for leaders of corporations that have political action committees, to make big plays for or against a piece of legislation during the session. Hey, why not just come on over to the statehouse with your checkbook.
    Maybe when someone comes up with a cogent argument for keeping abortion on demand, lawmakers will listen to them. While Indiana may be the first to pass legislation, due to trigger laws some states had in place, abortion is now banned in 19 states. Indiana offers exceptions that provide more latitude than the other 18. And this is before the legislative season begins across the country.
    To those of you under 50, when the Supreme Court handed down the Roe decision in 1973, the states were forced to allow abortion services without studying the impact.

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