Indiana passes restrictive abortion law, causing economic fallout

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Indiana’s sweeping new abortion ban produced immediate political and economic fallout on Saturday, as some of the state’s largest employers opposed restrictions, Democratic leaders hatched strategies to change or repeal the law , and abortion rights activists have planned to organize alternative venues for women seeking procedures.

The Indiana law, which the Republican-controlled state legislature passed late Friday night and Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed into law moments later, was the first state ban passed since the reversal by the United States Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wade in June and was celebrated as a major victory by abortion haters.

On August 5, Indiana lawmakers passed a near-total abortion ban. The bill was signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb (R). (Video: The Washington Post)

It also came just three days after voters in traditionally conservative Kansas surprised the political world by taking a very different approach, rejecting an election measure that would have removed abortion rights protections from that state’s constitution.

Indiana’s vote ended weeks of heated debate in Indianapolis, where activists demonstrated at the state Capitol and conducted intense lobbying campaigns as Republican lawmakers debated how far the law should go to restrict abortion. Some abortion haters hailed the law’s passage as a roadmap for conservatives in other states pushing similar bans following the High Court’s ruling on deerwhich had guaranteed the right to abortion care for 50 years.

Indiana’s ban, which takes effect Sept. 15, only allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality, or when the procedure is necessary to prevent serious health risks. health or death. Indiana joins nine other states that ban abortion from conception.

The new law represents a victory for anti-abortion forces, which have worked for decades to stop the procedure. But the passage came after disagreements among some abortion haters, some of whom believed the bill did not go far enough to stop the procedure.

After the legislation was enacted, Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant and one of the state’s largest employers, warned that such laws would hurt its employee recruiting efforts and said the company would look elsewhere. its expansion plans.

“We are concerned that this law will impede Lilly’s — and Indiana’s — ability to attract diverse scientific engineering and business talent from around the world,” the company said in a statement released Saturday. “Given this new law, we will be forced to plan for greater job growth outside of our home country.”

See where abortion laws have changed

Salesforce, the tech giant with 2,300 employees in Indiana, had previously offered to relocate employees to states with abortion restrictions, though it did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday. Indiana law.

The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce also warned that the ban was passed too quickly and without consideration of how it would affect the state’s tourism industry.

“Such a rushed legislative process — rushing to advance state policy on broad and complex issues — is, at best, detrimental to Hoosiers, and at worst, reckless,” the chamber said in a statement, asking “Will the Indy area continue to attract tourism and convention investment?”

Indiana lost 12 conventions and about $60 million in business after passing a religious freedom law in 2015, according to a local tourism industry estimate.

Indiana is the first state to ban abortion by legislature since the Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade. Other states have enacted “trigger laws” that came into effect with the fall of Deer.

Indiana may be just the beginning. Abortion rights advocates believe abortion could be severely restricted or banned in half of the 50 states.

An official from Indiana Right to Life, an Indiana anti-abortion group, said the new law will end 95% of abortions in Indiana and close all abortion clinics in Indiana on 15 September, when the legislation will come into force, unless abortion activists go to court and get an injunction first.

Indiana considered abortion restrictions for years, though it remained a state where many locals traveled for abortion care. Now, with many neighboring states – including Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia – also pushing to ban abortions, patients may have to travel hundreds of miles in some cases to seek treatment, said Elizabeth Nash, a policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion. rights. “Patients from Ohio will not be able to travel to Indiana to access it. They may have to go to Illinois or Michigan,” she said.

Indiana’s passage of the measure came just weeks after national attention focused on a 10-year-old girl who was raped in Ohio, where abortion is banned after six weeks, and traveled to Indiana to terminate the pregnancy.

Caitlin Bernard, the doctor who performed the abortion in Indianapolis, tweeted Saturday that she was “devastated” by the legislature’s action. “How many girls and women will be hurt before they realize this needs to be reversed? I will continue to fight for them with every fiber of my being,” she wrote.

Doctors reluctant to work in anti-abortion states

Indiana’s measure was swiftly condemned by National Democrats, who sought to brand Republicans extreme on abortion – citing the vote earlier this week in Kansas, where even rural and conservative parties in the state rejected the amendment to the state’s constitutional right to abortion.

The law is “another sweeping step by Republican lawmakers to suppress women’s reproductive rights and freedoms,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Democrats, however, hope they can use what happened in Indiana to portray the entire Republican Party as extreme on abortion.

“This has nothing to do with being ‘pro-life,'” California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted. “It’s about power and control.”

In Washington, Republican leaders have remained largely silent on efforts by Republican-led states to ban abortion. Polls consistently show that near-total abortion bans like Indiana’s are unpopular with the general public.

So when Indiana Republicans ban abortion for an entire state, “they’re effectively speaking for all Republicans,” said Martha McKenna, a Democratic political strategist, “and that’s why I hope that will be a good question for Democrats in November.”

Another political strategist, Jonathan Levy, who has worked on the Kansans campaign for constitutional freedom, which opposes limiting abortion rights, said the Kansas vote showed that extreme anti-abortion positions abortion “were going to be rejected by Americans of all political stripes”. The American people want lawmakers to focus on how to keep food on the table, how to keep the economy afloat. They think the priorities of the legislature are out of whack,” he said.

Along with the near total ban on abortion, Republicans in Indiana passed legislation they say was meant to support pregnant women and mothers, but critics have pointed out that much of the money was intended to support pregnancy crisis centers run by anti-abortion groups.

Health care providers and abortion counseling agencies struggled to understand the full impact of the legislation.

Indiana University Health, a major health care provider in the state, released a statement saying it was trying to determine what the ban meant for its doctors and patients.

“We will take the next few weeks to fully understand the terms of the new law and how to incorporate the changes into our medical practice to protect our providers and care for those seeking reproductive health,” the healthcare provider said in a statement.

Meanwhile, activists began discussing plans to raise funds and provide transport for those seeking access to abortion after the ban took effect, said former Planned Parenthood employee Carol McCord.

“Since this will soon be illegal in Indiana, we are looking for ways to help women travel to get the services they need,” she said. Indiana law was already considered restrictive compared to other states, so about 35% of women seeking abortions have already traveled out of state, said Jessica Marchbank, who is program manager. of State for the All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington.

Democratic state lawmakers have begun strategizing Saturday on how to respond, including considering repeal measures and organizing voters to elect pro-abortion lawmakers.

“This is a dark time for Indiana,” said Sen. Shelli Yoder, deputy chair of the Democratic caucus. “The plan going forward is to make sure we come out in November and weed out the people who supported something that only a tiny minority of Hoosiers wanted.”

Yoder said in an interview that she and like-minded state lawmakers were considering short-term action that could undo the impact of the new law, noting that the legislature has not officially adjourned.

“We can come back and fix this,” she said, adding that lawmakers are early in planning how to proceed.

Katie Blair, director of advocacy and public policy for the American Civil Liberties Union in Indiana, said Saturday her organization would consider legal action.

“You can guarantee that our legal team will work with partners to assess all legal avenues available to defend abortion access here in Indiana,” Blair said in a statement.

In signing the legislation, Holcomb applauded the work of lawmakers he called into special session this summer to find a way to restrict abortion, acknowledging the disagreements among those who oppose abortion.

“These actions followed long days of hearings filled with personal and sobering testimony from citizens and elected officials on this moving and complex subject,” the governor said in a statement. “Ultimately, these voices shaped and informed the final content of the legislation and its carefully negotiated exceptions to address some of the unthinkable circumstances a woman or an unborn child might face.”

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