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Indiana's Republican Gov. Mike Pence. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Indiana's Chilling New Anti-Abortion Law is One of Nation's Worst

Measure will 'only serve to increase any trauma or grief the pregnant person and their family may be experiencing,' says Indy Feminists

Deirdre Fulton

Issuing the latest salvo in the nationwide assault on women's rights, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed what reproductive health advocates are calling "one of the worst anti-abortion bills in the country."

The law, which Pence said he signed "with a prayer," makes Indiana the second state in the nation, after North Dakota, to ban abortion in cases where a fetal anomaly is detected.

It also mandates the burial and cremation of miscarried or aborted remains; restricts fetal tissue donation; and requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital or to have an agreement with a doctor who does.

In a petition that has so far gathered more than 5,000 signatures, women's health advocates said the measure adds "shame, stigma, and barriers at a time when the most critical need is medically accurate information and compassionate care."

And in a statement earlier this month, Indy Feminists declared:

The stereotypes employed by this legislation have no supporting evidence in the U.S. If signed in to law, HEA 1337 would only serve to increase any trauma or grief the pregnant person and their family may be experiencing. This jeopardizes the sacred trust needed for the doctor/patient relationship and makes patients scared to speak honestly about pregnancy concerns.

Furthermore, Indy Feminists warned, "HEA 1337 exposes doctors to harm by disclosing abortion providers' back-up physicians and hospital agreements to all hospitals in the area around an abortion clinic—at a time where the political and social climate is filled with violent rhetoric and domestic terrorism towards abortion providers."

The law is "a clear attempt to interfere and harm and chill doctors' willingness to perform abortions," Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor who has been an abortion rights advocate, told the New York Times.

According to the Indy Star, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) announced plans to request a preliminary injunction to block the new restrictions less than half an hour after Pence signed the measure. The group said it was "outraged and alarmed" over the development.

PPINK president and CEO Betty Cockrum said Pence "fails to grasp basic facts when it comes to reproductive health."

"Education, coupled with access to all reproductive health services is the most effective method of protecting Hoosiers," she said. "It is clear that the governor is more comfortable practicing medicine without a license than behaving as a responsible lawyer, as he picks and chooses which constitutional rights are appropriate."

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, echoed that charge:

This is one of the most extreme anti-abortion measures in the country and only further penalizes Indiana women and their doctors for accessing constitutionally protected abortion care. Preventing a woman from choosing abortion based on a medical diagnosis substitutes a politician's ideology for a woman's judgement. Politicians like Governor Pence who insert themselves into a woman’s private medical decisions aren’t just practicing bad medicine, they’re betraying the seven in ten Americans who support safe and legal access to abortion. Instead of confronting the very real challenges our nation faces, Governor Pence has decided to focus instead on taking away Hoosiers’ constitutional right to access abortion. Governor Pence’s priorities couldn’t be more out-of-touch and we will continue to oppose his dangerous attempts to limit women’s access to a full range of reproductive health options.

Late last week, Fort Wayne's Journal Gazette urged Pence to "veto this hastily passed, constitutionally dubious, and morally muddled bill."

Noting that "several normally pro-life Republican women objected to the bill or the way it was voted on without proper discussion, as well," the Journal Gazette pointed out: "Suggestions that any legislation requiring women to give birth to and raise children with severe genetic abnormalities should also provide help for those unable to bear the sometimes enormous costs that caring for those children might entail were brushed aside during the Senate debate."

While the bill passed both chambers of Indiana's Republican-controlled General Assembly with large majorities, 17 out of 22 women in the House voted against it.

The Star added:

The abortion bill signing comes just two days before the one-year anniversary of [Pence's] private signing of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That religious objections' measure set off a national firestorm over concerns it would allow discrimination against gay and transgender Hoosiers.

A rally in favor of women's rights and abortion access is planned for April 9th at the Indiana State Capitol.


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