Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Crucial week ahead for GOP lawmakers

·3 min read

Aug. 6—This is a significant week for the Republican Party in Indiana ahead of the midterm elections.

For the past two weeks, Republicans serving in the Indiana General Assembly have been clearly divided when it comes to deciding how to change the state's law concerning abortions.

Efforts have been made in both the House and Senate to amend the pending legislation to remove exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

There are some GOP lawmakers who are determined to change the state's law to allow abortions only when it threatens the life of the mother.

Several interesting things have taken place since lawmakers began their discussions during the special session.

During committee hearings in the Indiana House and Senate, none of the speakers for or against were in support of the proposed legislation.

Anti-abortion supporters wanted no exceptions included in the bill; abortion rights backers wanted the exceptions for the victims of rape or incest and to protect the life of the mother.

Just as with the Religious Freedom Reform Act of several years ago, the Indiana business community is speaking out against the drastic proposed changes in the abortion legislation.

All of the Indiana debate follows a non-binding referendum vote in Kansas, where 59% of voters were opposed to placing more strict restrictions on access to abortion.

Kansas, like Indiana, is a predominantly conservative state, so the result has to send a message to Republicans in other states when it comes to adopting new restrictions on abortions.

It seems hard to believe that Indiana lawmakers would consider denying an abortion to victims of rape or incest.

A recent case that attracted national attention involved a 10-year-old Ohio girl traveled to Indiana for an abortion after being raped in the Buckeye State.

A Hoosier lawmaker, when asked directly by a fellow member of the House if the child should have been denied the opportunity to get an abortion, responded in the affirmative.

Another fact that came out of the Kansas vote was that a majority of those casting ballots were women.

The abortion issue is not likely to go away between now and November and state Democrats are working hard to get women to go to the polls in November.

There is a chance no legislation will be adopted by the end of the special session, which would carry the issue over to the regular legislative session starting in January.

It's doubtful the abortion issue will have an impact on the Congressional elections in November, it likely will resonate in the contested elections for those Indiana House districts that could be considered toss-ups.

Also at the special session, a decision was made to reduce the amount of money that Gov. Eric Holcomb can return to taxpayers from the state surplus.

Holcomb wanted $225 returned to each taxpayer; a committee reduced the amount to $200.

At this point in time, it appears Republicans are at odds on several issues during the special session.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.