Indiana governor walks back comment on abortion bill

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Indiana Statehouse

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday walked back his previous statement that he expects to sign whatever abortion-restricting bill comes across his desk, but he struggled to articulate where specifically he stands on the incoming legislation.

The Republican governor previously said he has “no red lines” on abortion restrictions.

Eric Holcomb

Holcomb said his comment did not imply that “anything goes,” however, and that he “would never approach any issue that way.”

“What I meant was, I have not laid out any ultimatums to say this is what should be in, or shouldn’t be in, or can be in or couldn’t be,” he said.

Still, Holcomb did not make clear the particulars of any “bill or bills” that are expected to be proposed when lawmakers return to the Statehouse later this month for a special legislative session. Instead, he emphasized that he is involved in “discussions” with lawmakers as they work on abortion-related legislation.

Governor avoids pressure to reveal his stance

Holcomb remained silent about where he stood on specific elements of new state policy, including possible exceptions to an abortion ban, or if he thought criminal penalties should be imposed on doctors who perform abortions.

When asked directly if he was comfortable signing into a law an abortion ban that would require a teenage rape victim to give birth, the governor said he is “reserving comment until we see a bill.”

Moreover, Holcomb would not say specifically where he stood on any exceptions to a possible abortion ban. Instead, he maintained that he’s waiting for lawmakers to unveil their proposals.

“I am comfortable saying that I want to make progress to protect innocent life. And I will continue to be. That’s just who I am,” he said. “I’ve stated in the past when I reviewed bills that made it through the process, I checked my conscience. I’m not going to veer from that.”

The governor only said he hopes the legislature will consider boosting support for the state’s social systems, which are expected to be in increased demand if abortion is banned in Indiana.

“We have programs that are in dire need of more resources, including funding,” he said.

No details on draft abortion bills

Holcomb initially called for legislators to convene for a special session to consider a taxpayer refund on July 6, but GOP leadership delayed the start date until July 25 to give themselves more time to craft anti-abortion legislation.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have signaled support for new restrictions—possibly even an outright ban on abortions—but they have refused to release additional details.

“When it comes to the legalities and all the details that will be in that bill, that’s to be determined,” Holcomb said. “Very rarely do bills of this complexity and this emotionally charged issue end up where they start … the bill will evolve, I believe, from day one to the final day that it makes it to my desk.”

Acknowledging behind-the-scenes discourse within Indiana’s Republican caucus, which holds a supermajority in the statehouse, Holcomb said “we’re not drones,” but maintained that lawmakers are trying to make decisions on bills “in a condensed time period.”

“It’s probably unrealistic to think that we’ll make 100% of people happy, or 90 or 80 or 70 or 60,” he said, also referring to varying opinions held by Hoosier constituents.

For that reason, the governor added that any bills addressing abortion will require open debate and “transparency” in the legislative process.

“We have opinions, and they differ, right? And that’s good,” he said. “We can learn from one another—and there’s two sides to the aisle, and both sides deserve to be heard. I think—and I hope—that we can do this in a thoughtful way. Just yelling and shouting at each other is not going to persuade anyone, and you probably won’t learn if you’re not listening.”

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

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7 thoughts on “Indiana governor walks back comment on abortion bill

  1. “any bills addressing abortion will require open debate and “transparency” in the legislative process”

    Meanwhile, the current debates on this bill have begun in private Republican caucus, which is neither open nor transparent.

  2. So Republicans are finally acknowledging that we have serious funding needs in social and public health programs. It’s well past time. He even says, “We have programs that are in dire need of more resources, including funding.” And at the same time, this special session was originally called so that the state can send out small checks to Hoosiers because, supposedly, the state has too much money in the bank and they’d rather distribute a “stimulus” to fire up the already overheated economy so that they can blame Biden about inflation.

    1. Biden is doing a good enough job hanging himself without needing any help from Republicans, guys,

    2. “the Holcomb Administration’s tax rebate, which would return $1 billion to taxpayers, is worse. When combined with the tax rebates currently being mailed to taxpayers, it totals $1.5 billion.”

      “The statistical model suggests that the extra $1.5 billion will boost inflation for Hoosiers by more than 1.5 percent and lengthen our period of price increases by a year. To be conservative, I’d reduce that a bit to account for out of state spending, affecting consumer prices elsewhere. Still, at that level, it’s not clear consumers will be better off.

      The proposed tax rebate equals about 0.4 percent of total personal income on Indiana. A 1.0 percent inflation increase on our personal consumption is over $2.5 billion. That would leave Hoosiers $1 billion in the hole. Even if my estimates are off by half, this is simply a costly gimmick with no real benefits. A very costly gimmick.“

  3. I remain speechless: Governor shows concern for “innocent life” deferring his definition of “life” to that which is rooted in some holier-than-tho doctrine believed to show said commitment to “protecting innocent life…oh, can you wait just minute, I have to sign this Open Carry legislation….”
    And on to the Legislature that, again, with their sanctimonious affection to marry religion with our democracy and do their utmost to legislate morality, will undoubtably place even more restrictions on a woman’s right to choose. If that is the case (since all are created equal) then every Hoosier should be required to register for becoming foster parents (sort of like jury duty). None of us will be given a choice as to whether we want to take on the responsibility of being a parent….it will be our collective responsibility to do our part to “protect innocent life”.

  4. I hope the IN legislators who are writing this bill allow for a woman’s perspective on what type of exceptions are needed. Rape happens far more than people think. Most women don’t report them.

    Medical exceptions like ecotopic pregnancies, miscarriage complications causing hemorrhage, and other issues like diabetes, thyroid issues, and blood clot issues would prevent a woman from carrying a pregnancy to term, without her dying. Also for babies who have severe developmental issues and won’t survive outside the womb, or who die in the womb; a woman should not have to carry that baby to term, which some of these No Exception states demand.

    Many legislators often have no knowledge or understanding of the wide variety of reproductive care women need, where terminating a pregnancy sadly is needed. The law writing process should include consultation with doctors and women.

    I also hope that the IN legislature takes major steps to increase and fund social programs that would provide a safety net for disadvantaged mothers, who cannot afford to have a baby in the hospital or care for that child afterward.

  5. “It’s probably unrealistic to think that we’ll make 100% of people happy, or 90 or 80 or 70 or 60,” he said, also referring to varying opinions held by Hoosier constituents.”

    He forgot to append “or 50 or 40” to his statement.