Two CEOs say they didn’t sign off on abortion-rights letter

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Two local business leaders say they did not authorize the use of their names on a letter asking Gov. Eric Holcomb to work to protect the reproductive rights of Indiana women as lawmakers prepare to consider abortion restrictions at the governor’s urging.

The letter, which had circulated among some technology business leaders, was originally published Thursday by The Indianapolis Star with a list of more than 60 signatories. However, some of those business leaders told IBJ they did not sign off on the document.

Bill Oesterle, who was listed as one of the signatories, told IBJ he had not seen the letter in advance of The Star’s publishing it and had not agreed to put his name on it.

“I never, ever authorized it,” said Oesterle, a prominent Republican and co-founder of Angie’s List and MakeMyMove. “It’s the height of irresponsibility that I was attached to this.”

Ting Gootee, president and CEO of Indianapolis-based TechPoint, was also added to the letter without getting a chance to review its contents, the group’s spokeswoman said.

“It’s unfortunate that the letter was released prematurely and before Ting could give an answer as to whether she supports its contents,” Cheryl Reed, media relations manager for Techpoint, said in an email to IBJ. “Certainly, TechPoint sees adverse implications for the state’s ability to attract and retain talent should further restrictions be placed on reproductive rights. We also believe there are healthcare equity issues that would come into play. That said, we will have yet to formulate an official statement.”

IndyStar has since taken the letter off its website and issued a correction atop the story that says the original report “misstated seven individuals as signatories of the letter calling for reproductive rights.” IBJ has not been able to independently determine precisely how many business leaders have signed off on the letter.

“Once we were aware of the mistake, we corrected it—and the correction is at the top of the story,” IndyStar Executive Editor Bro Krift told IBJ.

John Gilman, founder of Clear Software, who signed the letter and was also involved in its circulation among business leaders, said that a rough draft of the letter was shared with IndyStar before all of the signatories had a chance to review it.

“A draft was shared with them that was premature,” Gilman said. “Obviously, these people didn’t approve the document. They didn’t get a chance to, and for that, we’re sorry for any frustration that may have caused them.”

Holcomb, a Republican, has called on the GOP-dominated legislature to further restrict abortions in Indiana following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Holcomb has asked for legislative action during a special session set to begin in earnest on July 25.

The draft letter signed by some business executives strongly urges the governor “not to take this path.”

The draft says further abortion restrictions would discourage companies committed to creating an inclusive workforce from locating in Indiana and make it difficult to retain and attract workers.

“Women business owners, executives and rising leaders have already begun making plans to move out of the state,” the draft says. “In an era of remote work, talented individuals have many options for where they choose to live. Indiana cannot afford discriminatory public policy that could deter those individuals from choosing our state.”

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9 thoughts on “Two CEOs say they didn’t sign off on abortion-rights letter

  1. Instead of Bill O. being upset about being represented as a signatory on the letter, he could address the larger issue: Where does he stand on a woman’s right to choose? Does he feel the legislature should take further action on restricting abortions? If that is the case, how would Bill feel if it became law that every person was required to become a foster parent? Despite whether they wanted to be a foster parent or not? Or would that be requiring Bill to take on the responsibility of being a parent when they didn’t want to? I mean, if women lose their right to choose, why shouldn’t we all?

  2. Women always have a choice about being a parent and that choice can never be taken away. If you don’t engage in what results in a woman becoming pregnant, you “choose” not to become a parent. This is a very difficult reality for individuals that believe they should be able to do whatever they choose … without consequences … to accept. Every action and choice each one of us makes have consequences. Murdering defenseless, dependent, embryonic lives is the absolute worse choice for all concerned.

    1. What choice do girls and women who are victims of rape of incest have? The Star reports a 10 year-old old travelled from Ohio to receive an abortion in Indiana. Would you force a 10-year old girl who has already experienced significant trauma to endure a pregnancy that will continue to traumatize her and could pose significant health risks that will have life-long consequences? Should she be forced to endure this ongoing harm? That would be the absolute worst outcome. I would suggest she and her family have more rights to determine life outcomes than does a non-sentient embryo. Absolutism such as yours provides an easy answer and sense of psychological safety. It lacks the courage to engage in the difficult and painful work of applying wisdom to what acutally happens in the real world.

    2. Hey Mark – Last time I checked, it takes 2 to make a baby. Sadly, the woman is the only one that can’t run away from the situation. Where are the consequences for the sperm provider? He chose to have sex too, right?

    3. Kristen: So you are saying she will not be traumatized later in life by having aborted a baby early on? How do you know that? Do you have any idea how many couples are waiting to adopt newborns, even those with developmental defects and/or are mixed-race?

  3. I would be upset if my name was forged on a document. I am pro-choice but Mark H. makes an excellent point. SCOTUS did not outlaw abortions. They gave us the right to vote on it. That is a wonderful. You would think liberals would embrace that, but perhaps they are scared that they can’t get the votes so, as usual, they resort to threats and violence.

  4. Quote: “Women business owners, executives and rising leaders have already begun making plans to move out of the state,” the draft says. “In an era of remote work, talented individuals have many options for where they choose to live. Indiana cannot afford a discriminatory public policy that could deter those individuals from choosing our state.”

    Really? Are these the people we want populating Indiana; those who choose to enjoy all of Indiana’s benefits and “plusses” based entirely on their ability to kill an unborn child with the state government’s blessing?

    And whatever happened to all those businesses who said they would leave if RFRA was passed…or, for that matter all those uber-liberal actors and actresses who said they would move out of the United States if Trump was elected? Why don’t these people live up to their convictions if these things are so important to them, and stay away from the rest of us?

  5. Indeed. The Supreme Court decision has unleashed an unexpected cornucopia of evil and genuflecting to the almighty dollar. So many people have so much of which to be ashamed…but since the concept of “shame” is all but gone from our culture, I suppose it is not a problem.

    Sodom and Gomorrah are owed an apology.