After banning abortion, Republicans want to take away birth control access in Indiana

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the landmark Dobbs ruling, stripping federal protections from abortion access.

This decision — along with defying medical expertise and endangering Americans — signaled the next frontier in an ongoing battle for Hoosiers’ liberty and self-determination: health care.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization revoked a long-held right and kneecapped women’s bodily sovereignty. The overturn of Roe was hardly popular. Since 2019, around 60% of Americans have believed reproductive freedom should remain intact, and only 35% believed it should be overturned.

Barely a full month after the Dobbs decision, the Indiana legislature held a special session to pass an invasive, draconian, near-total ban on abortion with near-zero support. Since then, the number of abortions in Indiana has approached zero, while clinics in Illinois have seen surging numbers of Hoosiers cross the border.

The need is still there. Women are still suffering. The Republican supermajority intentionally and knowingly put women in these crisis situations.

The ban has also been dogged since day one by lawsuits, which challenge the bill’s unconstitutional infringement on religious expression and attempt to expand the bill’s unforgiving and vague language about health exemptions.

Beyond abhorrent policy choices, though, we should look at this as the new modus operandi for an increasingly radical conservative movement. Unpopular, un-American policies — anti-choice bills, crackdowns on voters’ rights and attacks on the LGBTQ+ community — are stripped of federal protection and sent back to states that have been gerrymandered to hell and back.

Abortion-rights supporters and anti-abortion supporters gathered to protest during a special session Monday, July 25, 2022, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Abortion-rights supporters and anti-abortion supporters gathered to protest during a special session Monday, July 25, 2022, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

States' rights is the rallying cry. The ultimate goal is the revocation of your rights.

The end of abortion rights is only a piece (albeit an essential one) of a larger, creeping attack on reproductive health care and freedom. Just a few days ago, Republican senators (including current Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Braun) blocked a bill that would affirmatively protect IVF and other forms of fertility treatments.

Indiana Senate Republicans in 2022 blocked amendments to the abortion ban legislation that would have affirmatively protected Hoosiers’ access to FDA-approved contraceptives, guaranteed insurance coverage for contraceptives and established a ballot initiative process in Indiana. Autonomy and democracy denied, in one fell swoop.

Birth control access is the next target for conservative Republicans across the country. Republicans in at least 17 states have blocked efforts to pass laws ensuring the right to birth control, according to the Washington Post. Republican legislators in Missouri this year attempted to prohibit Medicaid funding of IUDs. Conservative groups are actively promoting misinformation about birth control safety and falsely claiming it causes abortions.

This kind of legislation based on bogus information is commonly boilerplate language circulated by national think tanks. It’s not made for, or by, Hoosiers and it doesn’t serve our interests.

The message from this anti-liberty movement is clear. Health care isn’t a right for Hoosiers; it’s a privilege. Health care is available on Republicans' terms only, governed by their morality, and denied to anyone deemed unworthy.

Soon, health care providers who just want to help their patients as best they can will have to get medically sound treatment essentially rubber-stamped by our legislature and our attorney general — who do not hold medical degrees — to avoid undue scrutiny and punishment.

Hoosiers should have access to every form of safe, medically-approved care available to us. I fought against Senate Enrolled Act 1 and I’ll stand against further attempts at intrusion on Hoosier health care.

The fight is now in our state and local governments. I call on my Republican colleagues to take seriously protecting birth control access and pass comprehensive, affirmative legislation this session. In fact, call for another special session! Write and pass a bill guaranteeing Hoosiers’ access to FDA-approved contraception and fertility treatments.

Take it a step further and incentivize private business owners to guarantee insurance coverage of contraceptives. Finally, for the sake of democracy and liberty, pass my bill restoring abortion access, which I’ve offered each year since the Dobbs ruling. Hoosiers want their bodies back.

To Hoosiers: Know your legislators’ records. Talk to your neighbors. Continue to call, write, email, testify, protest. Together we can return to the Indiana we recognize — one where our ideals of self-determination, autonomy, freedom, and compassion are upheld.

State Sen. Shelli Yoder is the assistant minority leader and serves District 40 in the Indiana Senate.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: After banning abortion, Indiana Republicans will target birth control