Indiana Legislature to address abortion laws during July 6 special session; Political leaders react to Dobbs ruling

With Roe v. Wade overturned, Indiana’s Republican supermajority General Assembly plans to address the state’s abortion laws during a July 6 special session.

In separate statements Friday, following the release of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, and Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, all said they “expect” members of the Legislature to address abortion when lawmakers reconvene in two weeks.

Holcomb announced the July 6 special session on Wednesday, stating it was to address his proposal to return $1 billion to Hoosier taxpayers to help with inflation costs.

Republican lawmakers in the Hoosier State have anticipated the ruling in Dobbs for months, sending a letter to Holcomb in March with 100 signatures asking him to call a special session if Roe was overturned.

It’s unclear just how far the abortion restrictions will go, as both Bray and Huston have declined to give specifics. Indiana does not have any “trigger laws” currently in place to immediately change the state’s current abortion laws.

The Indiana Legislature has passed numerous laws aimed at limiting access and reducing abortions since at least since 2011, when Senate Bill 290 — which would’ve prohibited all abortions except in cases to save the life of the pregnant woman — was filed. Most recently, Holcomb signed off on House Enrolled Act 1217, which requires women seeking an abortion to be informed that coerced abortion is illegal.

The Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on sexual and reproductive health rights, has predicted that Indiana — which it reports has enacted 55 abortion restrictions and bans over the last decade — will have a comprehensive ban with Roe overturned.

The Indiana Department of Health reported in its 2020 Terminated Pregnancy Report that there were 7,756 abortions reported in Indiana in 2020, with 7,372 involving Hoosier women.

Illinois, which enacted abortion legislation in 2019, is expected to be the nearest state where Hoosier women will be able to have a legal abortion in the future. The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that between 20,000 and 30,000 abortion patients from bordering states are anticipated to cross state lines for treatments.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has fervently opposed abortion during his time in office.

Laws restricting abortion in Indiana have largely been enjoined, but the state secured a win this past September, when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the stay of an injunction in Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, et al. v. Todd Rokita, et al., 21-2480 and 21-2573, an ongoing abortion legal battle that started in 2018.

Rokita said in a Friday statement he was “honored” to help attorneys in Mississippi in the Dobbs case. He called the SCOTUS ruling a “historic win.”

Democrats inside and out of the state have voiced their disappointment in the ruling.

President Joe Biden said Friday at the White House that “it’s a sad day for the court and the country.”

“Now with Roe gone, let’s be very clear, the health and life of women across this nation are now at risk,” Biden said. He added that “the court has done what it’s never done before — expressly taking away a constitution right that is so fundamental to so many Americans.”

Current and former Indiana politicians released statements and made comments on social media following the release of the high court’s opinion. The following is a compilation of reactions from Hoosier political and judicial leaders rounded up by Indiana Lawyer.

Tweets

Former Indiana Gov. and Vice President Mike Pence:
“Today, Life Won. By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court of the United States has given the American people a new beginning for life and I commend the Justices in the majority for having the courage of their convictions. By returning the question of abortion to the state and the people, this Supreme Court has righted a historic wrong, and reaffirmed to right of the American people to govern themselves at the state level in a manner consistent with their values and aspirations. Now that Roe v. Wade has been consigned to the ash heap of history, a new arena in the cause of life has emerged and it is incumbent on all who cherish the sanctity of life to resolve that we will take the defense of the unborn and support for women in crisis pregnancies to every state Capitol in America. Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land.

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana
“After 50 years, the right to life has finally been returned to the people and their elected representatives. I’m excited to see the states take the lead to protect the unborn, and I look forward to crafting solutions that will defend the unborn and save lives.” 

Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, District 1
“Today’s lamentable decision by the Supreme Court reflects the very real consequences of our elections. The decision to become a parent is one of the most important decisions any person can make, and it should be made by women, their families, their faith, and medical professionals, not the government or elected politicians. I stand with every woman today, and will continue to fight for a country in which all women, including my two daughters, have the legal right to access safe reproductive care.” 

Rep. Jackie Walorski, District 2
Today is an answer to prayer. After nearly 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the inalienable right to life. As this mission moves to the states, our commitment to life will march on.”

“Our prayers have been answered. By rightfully restoring power to the states, the Supreme Court has affirmed the inalienable right to life. As our mission moves to the states, we will not grow weary in doing good. Our commitment to life will march on. As one of the most pro-life states in the nation, Indiana will lead the way in defending the vulnerable, uplifting women and families, and ensuring every child has the chance to achieve the American Dream. Our enduring commitment to life will prevail.”

Chemical abortion is the next frontier. Women deserve to know the truth about abortion pills & their risks. My legislation, the Safeguarding Women’s and Children’s Health Act, will strengthen transparency at the FDA and expose the true cost of these drugs. #DobbsvJackson”

Rep. Jim Banks, District 3
“It’s a great day for life!”

Thank you to President Trump for appointing THREE #SCOTUS Justices who value the dignity of life!”

Rep. Jim Baird, District 4
“Life wins!!”

Rep. Victoria Spartz, District 5
“We should remember that in a Constitutional Republic, the Supreme Court has the ultimate say on constitutional issues. I support the Court’s decision and encourage my fellow Americans to respect it too regardless of personal views.”

Rep. Andre Carson, District 7
“Today is a terrible day in America for women and all Americans who value the freedom to make their own medical decisions. The House has passed legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose and I call on the Senate to take up our bill immediately.”

GOP statements

Gov. Eric Holcomb
“The Supreme Court’s decision is clear, and it is now up to the states to address this important issue. We’ll do that in short order in Indiana. I’ve already called the General Assembly back on July 6, and I expect members to take up this matter as well. I have been clear in stating I am pro-life. We have an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life, and that’s exactly what we will do.”

Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers
“Today’s decision rightfully returns the question of abortion back to the people and the states, and we’re excited to build on Indiana’s already strong pro-life track record. While it’s too early to speculate on what form legislation may take, I strongly believe we’ll couple any action with expanding resources and services to support pregnant mothers, and care for their babies before and after birth. It’s my expectation for state lawmakers to take action to further protect life when we return to the Statehouse for a special session. … “

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville
“Indiana has a strong record as a pro-life state, and I am pleased the Supreme Court ruled to return power to the states with regard to this important issue. With the final decision in hand, we can begin to formulate a policy that is right for Indiana that protects unborn children and cares for the health and lives of mothers and their babies. I expect we will be able to work on that in the upcoming special session. … “

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita
“This is a historic moment. With its action today, the U.S. Supreme Court at long last has acknowledged the gross injustice perpetrated by the court in 1973 through the tragic Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the nation. … My office was honored to assist the attorneys for the State of Mississippi in their preparations to argue the Dobbs case before the U.S. Supreme Court. As Indiana’s attorney general, I have devoted much of my time and energy to defending Indiana’s own pro-life laws. With today’s Supreme Court ruling, pro-life states such as Indiana should find it easier to legislate and enforce strong laws that protect lives. Even as we expect relief from the burden of spending as much time in court defending our abortion laws, however, we will remain watchful and ready for attempts in Washington D.C. to codify into federal law the same nationwide legalization of abortion that the court foisted on Americans in 1973. … “

Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana
“Today is a monumental day for the protection of life in America and a defining moment for our nation. Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and the Supreme Court has corrected a historic injustice. The American people will now have the opportunity, through their state elected officials, to decide our laws when it comes to protecting life and protecting women. It’s now time to work on solutions that affirm the right to life and support pregnant women and mothers.”

Rep. Larry Buschon, District 8
“All life is sacred. For more than 15 years this basic principle guided my actions as a physician and continues to mold my thinking as a lawmaker. The Supreme Court’s ruling today is an important step in a decades-long fight toward protecting all life and will return the decision to the states to best reflect the views of their people.”

Democratic statements

Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne
“Put plainly, access to abortion has allowed women and families to plan their futures on their terms. It’s given women freedom, economic mobility and safety. Now, all of that is under threat. Today’s decision rolls back nearly half a century of reproductive health care protections, and House Democrats are prepared to fight whatever regressive legislation House and Senate Republicans put forth. We still believe that medical decisions — and especially serious and difficult ones like abortion — are best made between a woman and her doctor, not by the government.”

Indiana Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis
“This ruling will plunge us back into a society where the most personal aspect of a woman’s life will be at the mercy of her state legislature. Indiana will enter a bygone era where a woman is forced to carry unexpected and unsafe pregnancies to term — with no regard for her personal choice, her physician’s advice or her circumstances or potential risks. And let’s be clear, women will die. We already have the 3rd highest maternal mortality rate in the nation — restricting abortion care will have deadly and devastating outcomes for women and families. … Roe v. Wade protected a fundamental right to privacy that ensured women could access all forms of healthcare to support the best health outcomes. Supporting maternal health means guaranteeing access to vital healthcare, respecting health care providers’ guidance and leaving women the freedom to make personal and nuanced reproductive decisions without government interference. The outcome of banning abortion care will have a drastic impact on our entire state. Due to decades of underinvestment in key social infrastructure, Indiana does not have the ability to support a forced-birth society. … My caucus and I will continue fighting for women as we enter this dark time. … Regardless of what happens in our upcoming special session, my caucus will never give up fighting for essential abortion care for all Hoosier women.”

Other organizations

ACLU of Indiana  Executive Director Jane Henegar:
“The courts are letting anti-abortion politicians attack our fundamental rights, but they don’t get the final say — we do. The majority of Hoosiers agree that abortion should be safe and accessible, so let’s make our voices heard. The ACLU of Indiana will do everything in our power to block any ban in the courts, but we aren’t waiting to take additional action. Now is the time to let Indiana elected officials know that we will not stand by as they take away women’s rights. We are mobilizing people  and urging Hoosiers to hold politicians accountable.”

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