Should the Legislature change Indiana’s abortion law during an upcoming special session?
Nearly 20 years ago, when I was a talk show host and political reporter back in Springfield, Illinois, there was a young lady to whom I had been attracted for years. We’d see each other at events, but that was about it.
One night, however, we were out with friends, and she asked me to walk her back to her car. When we got there, she told me she knew I liked her and she wanted to start dating. You might find this hard to believe, but I was shocked and speechless.
I felt like the dog that had finally caught the car. After years of chasing after something, I finally caught it and had absolutely no idea what to do with it.
That’s how Republicans in the Statehouse must feel when it comes to the abortion issue.
So, as you are aware, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ruling there is no constitutional right to an abortion and turning the decisions about abortion back to the states. Some states have restricted abortion rights, while others are expanding them.
So, what the heck is going on here in Indiana?
Gov. Eric Holcomb had originally called a special session for July 6 to get Hoosiers a second automatic taxpayer refund. But then came the SCOTUS decision, which threw everything out of whack. Now, the special session date is July 25. Part of the reason it’s delayed is that Republican lawmakers are all over the place regarding abortion.
There are different degrees of pro-life; some people who say they are pro-life want no abortions under any circumstances—and some want exemptions. After doing some checking, here’s what I found out about what most Republican lawmakers are thinking.
First, with the exception of the far, far, far, far right, most lawmakers want an exemption for the life of the mother—although a good chunk thinks doctors should do everything they can to save the unborn child.
Second on the list of possible exemptions is one for rape and incest. That enjoys a lot of support, but not as much as an exemption for the life of the mother.
Some lawmakers want to include some kind of police-reporting requirement—and a time limit for reporting once a procedure is done.
One of the more complicated issues to consider is penalties. Whom do you punish? The mother? The doctor? The Uber or taxi driver who drove a woman to have the procedure done? It’s doubtful the mother will be sanctioned, or the Uber driver. The question is, what penalties to impose on the medical provider?
There could also be a dollar amount tied to this legislation, as many lawmakers have said they want to support mothers and their children. One lawmaker suggested making birth control free. (And for those who say the government should not be paying for birth control, look at our history. In World War II, the U.S. government gave condoms to servicemen. The Army would generally issue each serviceman six free condoms a month. It also issued soldiers a “pro kit”—or prophylactic kit—which contained medicated soap, medicinal cream and a pre-treated cloth they could use to wash their genitals immediately after sex for extra protection.)
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to this issue.
After 50 years, the pro-life wing of the Indiana Republican Party has finally caught the car.
Now let’s see if its members know how to drive.•
Shabazz is an attorney, radio talk show host and political commentator, college professor and stand-up comedian.
Click here for more Forefront columns.