Indiana lawmakers seek possible special session on abortion

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Indiana Statehouse

The vast majority of Indiana’s Republican state legislators have signed a letter asking the governor to call them back into special session later this year if the U.S. Supreme Court rolls back the limits states can place on abortion.

The letter was sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday as lawmakers were wrapping up work on this year’s nine-week regular legislative session that ended early Wednesday.

Anti-abortion legislators decided to hold off on major action during the session until they see the Supreme Court’s decision on a Mississippi law that they hope will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that affirmed the constitutional right to an abortion. That ruling isn’t expected until perhaps June.

“We have a responsibility to Hoosiers to ensure that our state laws are aligned with the Supreme Court’s decision if Roe v. Wade is wholly, or partially, overturned,” said the letter signed by 100 of the 110 Republican legislators.

Holcomb “is absolutely considering” the option of a special legislative session while awaiting the court ruling, said his press secretary, Erin Murphy.

Democratic state Sens. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis and Shelli Yoder of Bloomington said such a special session would put women’s lives in danger by reducing access to safe abortions.

“The notion that our 76% male state Legislature should be able to make decisions about women’s own bodies and livelihoods on their behalf is ludicrous,” they said in a statement.

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20 thoughts on “Indiana lawmakers seek possible special session on abortion

  1. Apparently these legislators think they can regulate morality…but in reality they can’t. If it were possible there would be no immoral behavior in society. But there is, whether they admit it or not. So full steam ahead in the effort to reduce the reproductive health options available to women. It will be interesting to see what the major employers in Indiana think about this hard swing to the right and how it will affect their female employees. And whether they will want to expand their companies or even stay in Indiana.

    1. In the same way one can’t legislaate morality, murder laws are still on the books, and restrict what everyone can do with their bodies, against someone else.

      If SCOTUS recognizes those kinds of restrictions that assert where lines should be drawn should be in the state legislatures (vs court opinion), then it is absolutely appropriate for Legislature to be convened expediently.

    2. No, Scott, just because SCOTUS rules to restrict Roe v Wade does not mean the state legislature needs to follow suit. Why not let the choice be left to women and their health care provides within reasonable parameters?

    3. Exactly, Brent. The legislature wants to meet to determine what those ‘reasonable parameters’ would look like after R v W is limited / rescinded.

      Now, it’s obvious some people will disagree on what is reasonable, but that is what the Legislature is for. Like you suggest, Legislatures can’t impose morality, but as with murder laws, they can create civil consequences that uphold common values at large.

  2. The same legislators who assert the have the power to call themselves back into session to end the governor’s efforts to stop a virus from killing people … now say the governor must call them back to pass laws to stop abortion. Their consistency is something, and not just their consistency of being pro-life as opposed to just being pro-birth.

    You’d also think they would use the issue as a reason to win an election. But I don’t think most of them are that smart.

    1. Joe – not inconsistent at at. Legislature never advocated the Governor *couldn’t* call a special session, only that the Legislature themselves could do it as well. As that is currently pending ruling from state Supreme Court, entirely reasonable to request Gov to exercise existing powers for an area there should be common ground.

      Oh it will be used to win elections, just as it has been used in the abstract to win in the past. But since the ruling / session will come after primary season, it is more of a long-term plan, since topic will likely not be a tipping point in many general elections this fall.

      That said, IMHO, it’s kind of a minefield for the majority, as contours of these issues have not been considered for generations; the public hasnt really wrestled with the details, and pretty likely legislature will overshoot where the public eventually lands.

    2. Where the public is at is irrelevant. Thanks to gerrymandering, the laws Indiana gets will represent Republican primary voters in rural Indiana. You know, the parts of Indiana that people are fleeing.

      Letting these folks write the laws, if you’re trying to keep and attract smart talented people to the state of Indiana, will be a large mistake.

      I, personally, would have minor issues with reducing the threshold for abortions in Indiana if it were paired with major increases in sex education, vastly increased access to contraception, and increases in prenatal care for mothers and better child care options for parents.

      To me, that’s the pro-life approach. That’s not what we will get.

      We will get the pro-birth approach, which will be banning abortions in Indiana and, if we are lucky, exceptions for the life of the mother. I expect the rape and incest provisions to also be removed. The other stuff i mentioned? Forget about it.

  3. Where the public is, is definitely relevant. And my point is that we can’t just extend the matra that’s been positioned over decades as extending if the power to legislate is actually available. Much like a political party in the minority can succeed by being “against” something the majority has done and galvanizing support – but moving to creating legislation implementing vision is another thing entirely. “Repeal the ACA” is just one recent example of many both national and local.

    To the extent gerrymandering affects, since state general elections haven’t turned on this questions – districts weren’t drawn really considering this, so can cut both ways. A “cracked” district broken into others can make each of the resulting constituencies a lot more moderate than they naturally would be. And besides we don’t know where the individual legislators will land themselves. My committee-chair Senator who is a traditional GOP conservative, but has show to be pragmatic on women’s issues, can definitely see her trading off support to add/include some of those things you mentioned.

    Imho, there are going to be surprises if it becomes adversarial because of the unknowns.

    1. I think the only thing unknown will be the legislation. I suspect it’s already been written, and probably discussed in Republican caucus meetings before legislators departed. They’re not going to come back for a special session other than to ram that legislation through as quickly as possible. 100 Republicans didn’t sign that petition because they wanted to come back for a month and be deliberative and take public input.

      Yes, it’s possible that a couple legislators get knocked off in the general election by moderate voters upset about the process or result, but not enough to change the supermajority that allows Republicans to operate at will.

      It will be interesting to see what the Curt Smith and Micah Clark’s of the world do to ensure that people keep giving them money. Probably go after the LGBTQ folks…

  4. Typical AP posturing, referring to these legislators as “anti-abortion,” rather than the more accurate, “pro-life.”

    All the confused trans people and their acolytes get their panties in a wad if those people aren’t called by the pronoun they demand, but pro-lifers are “dissed” when asked to be be described as pro-life, rather than the negative connotation of being “anti-abortion” preferred by people who fail to accommodate, much less protect, the new person (different DNA, different person, for the uninformed) created from the moment of conception.

    Joe B quote: Letting these folks write the laws, if you’re trying to keep and attract smart talented people to the state of Indiana, will be a large mistake.

    Ah, yes, “smart, talented” people are pro-abortion…right, Joe B? What other implication am I to draw from your broad-brush approach to folks who are pro-life and expect our state’s laws to reflect that? (And don’t give me the tired “you can’t legislate morality” song and dance; the government legislates morality all the time. Otherwise, murder, assault, and theft of another’s person and property would be legal.)

    1. The implication you can draw is that they find the pro-life folks to be total hypocrites and Pharisees and they’d rather live elsewhere.

      You can bleat all you would like about being pro-life but your general tone is of one who loses interest in the dignity of human life once the human being exits the birth canal.

      Otherwise, all those things I mentioned would be things that “pro-life” folks would be pushing just as strongly as banning abortion. But they don’t. Why is that, Bob? You realize that reducing unplanned pregnancies and reducing the quarter-million dollar cost of raising a child these days would reduce the number of abortions, right?

    2. Conservatives aren’t “pro-life.” Nothing about a political party that war-mongers, promotes the pollution of air and water, denies universal healthcare, opposes child care, opposes low-income housing, and opposes reducing higher education costs is “pro-life.” Republicans are pro-forced birth. That is the more accurate reference.

    3. Don’t forget the gaping silence from “pro-life Republicans” when it became apparent that the state of Indiana had allowed hospitals to take the money intended to care for the elderly and instead spend the money on executive salaries and shiny buildings while the elderly literally rot to death in substandard care.

      Sanctity of human life, indeed.

    4. Quote: Conservatives aren’t “pro-life.” Nothing about a political party that war-mongers, promotes the pollution of air and water, denies universal healthcare, opposes child care, opposes low-income housing, and opposes reducing higher education costs is “pro-life.” Republicans are pro-forced birth. That is the more accurate reference.

      What a wholly asinine retort, A. T. Republicans promote water and air pollution? Oppose child care, low income housing, etc? Where do you get off on such nonsense? Do you have any concept of personal responsibility, or are all of us supposed to provide cradle-to-grave food, water, shelter, clothing, etc., for anyone and everyone who doesn’t have the slightest inclination to provide for themselves? People like you are impossible.

      And for the record, Joe B., our church recently had a diaper drive to support The Indiana Diaper Bank to provide diapers to low-income mothers and families. We are a small congregation with about 100 regular attendees, yet we managed to collect and bundle 8,775 diapers to give to that diaper bank. We suspect those will be used by mothers who did not to abort their babies for whatever reason, so enough of your “they don’t care after the babies are born” nonsense.

      You intellectually-ugly geniuses tell me how a culture that knowingly, willingly, and legally kills over 1,000,000 of its innocent future citizens per year can expect to long survive.

    5. “You intellectually-ugly geniuses tell me how a culture that knowingly, willingly, and legally kills over 1,000,000 of its innocent future citizens per year can expect to long survive.”

      By changing the culture, for one. There’s a reason that Christians are pariahs and ignored in todays culture. Maybe it’s because they’ve become the Pharisees that Jesus hated more than anyone else?

      How about showing love and grace to your fellow man? How about not pretending that unplanned pregnancies and back alley abortions never happened back in your day?

      It’s a quarter million dollars to raise a kid and you want people to leave you alone because your bought some diapers. Whoop-de-do.

      You can’t have it both ways. Either gladly smile and help those people who weren’t aborted, or lean into birth control and minimize the number of unplanned pregnancies.

      Or, you’d also maybe understand that if you made a serious effort at decreasing the number of unplanned pregnancies via better birth control, something that would mean LESS ABORTIONS, you’d also decrease the number of people that you’d have to assist with your tax dollars, people you despise as your words have made clear. You are advocating for more of those people you despise to need help.

      Your response crystallizes everything wrong with the pro-birth movement and why I have no time for hypocrites on this issue.

    6. Bob, we both want no abortions.

      You think you can do it on the supply side – ban abortion and there will be no abortions. Then again, abortion was illegal before Roe v. Wade and people were still getting back alley abortions and being sterilized or dying… which drove the legalization of abortion in the first place.

      I think we can do it on the demand side – give people knowledge, education, and birth control and you’ll have less unplanned pregnancies, which will lead to less abortions.

      Which isn’t just my opinion … they’ve done studies that show it would work.


      Preventing Unintended Pregnancies by Providing No-Cost Contraception


      To promote the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARC) (intrauterine devices and implants) and provide contraception at no cost to a large cohort of participants in an effort to reduce unintended pregnancies in our region.


      We enrolled 9,256 adolescents and women at risk for unintended pregnancy into the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a prospective cohort study of adolescents and women desiring reversible contraceptive methods. Participants were recruited from the two abortion facilities in the St. Louis region and through provider referral, advertisements, and word of mouth. Contraceptive counseling included all reversible methods, but emphasized the superior effectiveness of LARC methods (IUDs and implants). All participants received the reversible contraceptive method of their choice at no cost. We analyzed abortion rates, the percentage of abortions that are repeat abortions, and teenage births.


      We observed a significant reduction in the percentage of abortions that are repeat abortions in the St. Louis region compared to Kansas City and nonmetropolitan Missouri (P < 0.001). Abortion rates of the CHOICE cohort were less than half the regional and national rates (P < 0.001). The rate of teenage birth within the CHOICE cohort was 6.3 per 1,000, compared to the U.S. rate of 34.1 per 1,000.


      We noted a clinically and statistically significant reduction in abortion rates, repeat abortions, and teenage birth rates. Unintended pregnancies may be reduced by providing no-cost contraception and promoting the most effective contraceptive methods.

  5. “Where do you get off on such nonsense?” Idk, Republican leadership saying it out loud in their legislation and on cable news is kind of a giveaway. Clearly, I struck a nerve (because I’m right).