Aug. 4—In its rush to make Indiana one of the first states to adopt new restrictions after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Republican majority in the Indiana General Assembly has taken an unwise approach to its pending adoption of a near total ban on abortion.
Such an important issue shouldn't be shoved through, as the potential changes being proposed would have dramatic effects on the control Hoosier women have over their bodies, their health and their lives. The pace at which lawmakers are moving is also creating confusion.
Physicians shared their concerns while testifying Aug. 2. Physicians are worried about interpretation of the potential law in the event of an emergency abortion to save the mother's life.
Doctors could lose their medical licenses and face felony criminal charges if they are deemed to have performed an illegal abortion. If the exception stays in the final bill, definitive language with exhaustive details must be included so that doctors aren't left trying to interpret a vaguely worded law during a medical emergency.
Also, as our state attorney general has already made national headlines for targeting a physician for performing a legal abortion on a 10-year-old, new abortion laws must be precise to protect physicians from unjust prosecution. Ambiguity in regulations over such a serious issue could lead to major consequences for doctors and their patients.
Even though Republicans enjoy a supermajority in the Indiana House and Senate, they have struggled to find consensus on an abortion ban. State lawmakers, the vast majority of them men, might just be beginning to grasp the complexity of this issue and how hard it is for people to agree on an approach, even within the same political party.
Some of the proposals don't align with the wishes of GOP voters. A widely reported poll of Indiana Republicans conducted by GOP Senate and House campaign committees showed a majority favored abortion exceptions. The poll also showed many Republicans think abortion should remain legal in Indiana for up to 15 weeks of gestation.
Hoosiers haven't had opportunity to be heard on abortion, and it appears Indiana lawmakers are basing legislation on assumptions and stereotypes. They need to look at Kansas as an example of why that's a bad idea. Voters in the traditionally conservative state overwhelmingly denied Kansas lawmakers the ability to further restrict abortion access when the question was placed on their primary ballot.
Indiana voters haven't had a chance to cast ballots since the Supreme Court's decision, so, we don't know how this issue might affect voting outcomes in November.
Indiana lawmakers should pump the brakes and approach abortion legislation with patience. The issue is far too important to be rushed through so some elected officials can check a box ahead of their re-election campaigns.