Indiana governor says no ‘red lines’ on possible abortion legislation

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday he’ll sign any abortion-restricting measures that make it to his desk during the upcoming special legislative session.

The revelation came one day after Indiana lawmakers announced they will delay the reconvening of the General Assembly until late July, however. 

That also postpones the Republican governor’s proposed tax refund payments, but legislators said it allows more time to craft an expected plan to further curb access to abortions.

“I don’t have any red lines right now,” Holcomb said. “It’s of paramount importance to me … that we must recognize that this issue is one of the most divisive by definition—when you look at where people fall in the nation—and that will require a thoughtful and respectful airing of where we all come from.”

Although the governor, along with Republican leadership in the House and Senate, have signaled support for new restrictions—possibly even an outright ban on abortions—they have not released details.

Mum on specifics

Holcomb did not say where he stood on specific elements of a new law, including possible exceptions to an abortion ban, or if he thought criminal penalties should be imposed on doctors who perform abortions.

He said Indiana should watch other states that already took action after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey rulings, adding that “it probably served to our benefit” that Indiana did not have a trigger law in place, as others did.

“​​It may be that we’ll learn something from others before they come back into session,” Holcomb said. “And we may be able to avoid some wrong turns or pitfalls.”

The governor’s proclamation will still start the “shot clock” on the special session on July 6. But House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said Wednesday that state lawmakers plan to return to the Statehouse for a special legislative session on July 25, instead.

Doing so helps the General Assembly reconvene with “minimize logistical issues,” Bray and Huston said.

Lawmakers only have until Aug. 14 to codify their plans—state law allows them to use up to 40 calendar days to complete their work. 

Holcomb maintained Thursday that the legislature has “ample time” to craft the state’s response to the high court’s ruling on abortion, noting that he, along with members of his administration, will be at the General Assembly’s ready “any moment, of any day.”

Refund delayed

The governor additionally said Thursday he’s “anxious” to send tax refunds to Hoosiers to provide inflation relief. 

Acknowledging that the delayed special session could mean taxpayers won’t see refund checks for several more months, Holcomb said other legislative responses, such as paying down more debt, might be necessary.

“This is the reason why I called this special session,” Holcomb said. “I’m even more persuaded that we can give at least a billion dollars back to Hoosiers, looking at our revenue. I’m anxious to get back in the building with the understanding that we’ve got time to do both of these things.”

Holcomb announced his plan earlier this month to dip into the state’s growing budget surplus and send $225 in payments to taxpayers. Doing so requires approval from the state legislature.

Holcomb previously rejected calls from Democrats to suspend state gas taxes, saying that would be an inefficient way to help Hoosiers financially. He emphasized Thursday his goal is “to make sure that Hoosiers are directly the beneficiary” of the state’s economic growth.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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10 thoughts on “Indiana governor says no ‘red lines’ on possible abortion legislation

    1. To say this special session will go down poorly in history would be an understatement. No Hoosier will be left unscathed.

  1. Quote: “I don’t have any red lines right now,” Holcomb said. “It’s of paramount importance to me … that we must recognize that this issue is one of the most divisive by definition—when you look at where people fall in the nation—and that will require a thoughtful and respectful airing of where we all come from.”

    Blah, blah, blah, blah…geeze, if only we had a principled person for a governor, rather than one who makes sticking Jello to a wall look easy.

    1. Don’t worry, Bob. He’s going to sign whatever the Legislatures writes in their private caucus. All they have to do is have a few sham hearings that will change nothing, and voilà, an abortion ban with a token amount of funding increases that will fool some voters into thinking they’re actually pro-life and not just anti-abortion, but that won’t actually be enough to increase outcomes for kids of mothers.

      Am in the only one who looks at all this and thinks that, sure, one day at the gates God will be glad that we reduced abortion .. but he will also ask us why we fought so hard to make sure that the government was unable to help those in need? Why we didn’t do more for the poor and downtrodden? Why we didn’t recognize that so many got abortions because they didn’t have access to contraceptives, they couldn’t afford the medical bills, and they sure as heck can’t afford to raise a kid. Those needs are already not being met and it’s going to be worse with more people forced to have babies. Abortion bans without fully meeting those needs is not pro-life.

    2. Joe B. — Is government suppose to provide cradle to grave entitlements to
      people just because they may be lower income??

      We already provide a deal of government services and assistance to low
      income people. Add it all up and it’s auite a significant amount.

      Why do we treat poor people like blind lost puppies.

    3. Keith – should the world’s richest country just have people live on the streets in abject poverty because some people have decided it’s their own fault they’re poor, when the system pretty well ensures that if you’re born to bad circumstances, you will stay in them in most cases?

      If people are bothered by the mentally ill on street corners, why did we close mental hospitals are let people loose thinking that they could just take a pill and it would all work out?

      Why do we have laws that encourage people not to work because they might be better off financially doing nothing as opposed to working?

      Why, if a nuclear family with two parents with one able to stay home and raise the kids is so important, have we allowed wage growth to stagnate to where most families have to have both spouses working if they want any decent housing or quality of life?

      I’d personally take a run at ditching the entire welfare entitlement system and pilot a universal basic income system for those below a certain income level. You get some amount of money, it’s on you to use it wisely. Yeah, we’d need to provide some kind of financial literacy assistance … but what we’re doing now isn’t working. Heck, I’d try boarding schools just to get people out of their circumstances.

  2. Don’t give us money back. Just implement the reduced income tax rate versus phasing it in over a few years. That impacts a lot of people too.