Abortion ban bill won’t be heard in Indiana House committee

A key Indiana House panel won’t consider a contentious attempt to ban abortions, its chairman said Thursday, meaning the measure likely is dead this session.

Republican Rep. Ben Smaltz of Auburn, chairman of the House Committee on Public Policy, said in a statement that he has “deep philosophical concerns” with the government requiring women to carry their pregnancies to term in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.

Republican Rep. Curt Nisly authored the so-called “Protection at Conception” measure, which defines human physical life as beginning when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm, and said the state has an interest in protecting life. Though the Goshen lawmaker said it wasn't crafted to reach the Supreme Court, some conservative activists hoped a potential legal challenge would reach the nation’s highest court, potentially in an effort to challenge Roe v. Wade.

With the amount of support Nisly said he's received from all around the state, he said he is encouraged that “this is not over yet.”

“Whether it’s sometime yet this session or in a future session, I do believe that this is going to happen in Indiana,” he said.

In his statement, Smaltz said he had voted for every anti-abortion bill that passed through the House since he assumed office in 2012 and that he is working on legislation that seeks to “preserve the dignity of all human life and protect the unborn.”

Smaltz also expressed concern at a “likely legal effect of setting the pro-life movement back.” He told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette if the law was struck down by a judge, he feared it would also remove regulations lawmakers have written — which he said would be “catastrophic to the cause.”

Nisly called that reasoning a “cop-out,” adding that Smaltz or another lawmaker could offer suggestions or changes to the measure, to make it more to their liking.

The deadline for a committee hearing has not passed, Nisly noted, and until that final deadline he believes “anything is possible.”

“Hoosiers have been waiting for legislation like this for a long time. They’re glad that this has finally come to the table and we can talk about this,” Nisly said. “It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.”

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