Statehouse Republicans remain tight-lipped on how they’ll address abortion rights at special session


Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly are expected to introduce legislation that will tighten access to abortion at a special session set to begin July 25, but they have remained tight-lipped about how far new restrictions could go.

State legislatures across the nation are taking a fresh look at their abortion laws after a June 24 Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, erasing a constitutional right to abortion that had been in place since 1973. The ruling means that states set their own laws regarding abortion, which in Indiana is permitted through 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Gov. Eric Holcomb initially called the special session so the legislature could address taxpayer refunds, but the Supreme Court ruling ensured changes to the state’s abortion law would be added to the agenda.

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State Reps. Donna Schaibley and Jerry Torr, Republicans whose districts include Carmel, did not respond to a request for comment about what type of abortion law they would propose or support.

State Sen. J.D. Ford, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Carmel, Zionsville and Indianapolis, said he hasn’t received any information about what Republicans might propose.

“It’s not like my colleagues on the other side of the aisle didn’t know this was coming. They had the (Supreme Court draft overturning Roe v. Wade) leak back in May,” Ford said. “I’m seeing media reports that they’re hunkered down in an undisclosed hotel somewhere. It smacks of backroom dealing. I just feel like they should have language that’s readily available online so people can read and see exactly what type of route we’re going down.”

State Sen. Fady Qaddoura, whose district includes parts of Carmel, Fishers and Indianapolis, said he is concerned about how far the Republican proposal will go.

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“While we don’t yet know what the Republican legislation will look like, it has been reported that Republicans are interested in a total ban on abortion with no exceptions and criminalizing health care professionals. If that is indeed the legislation that is introduced, I will strongly oppose it,” Qaddoura said. “I support a woman’s right to make her own decisions in consultation with her physician and faith if she chooses to. I find it especially disturbing that the supermajority is considering not including exceptions for rape and incest.”

Ford said he will not support legislation that does not allow for abortions in the case of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is in danger, and he does not support laws that would criminalize abortion for mothers or medical providers.

“I believe abortion is health care, and I believe that a woman has her right to bodily autonomy,” he said. “I don’t feel the government is the best place to tell women and their family and their health care provider what they can and can’t do.”

He also called on Republicans to back legislation that provides stronger support for mothers and children after birth.

“My colleagues, for the longest time, have said they are the party of pro-life, but I haven’t seen them vote that way. It’s a little hypocritical to say that when they’ve turned down child care, when they’ve watered down the pregnancy accommodations bill, when they voted to take food away from SNAP recipients this past session,” Ford said. “I haven’t seen their actions back up what they’re saying.”