Indiana News

Dems, Right to Life signal Indiana abortion debate isn’t over

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Multiple Democratic candidates on Tuesday said they will push for a repeal of Indiana’s new abortion ban if elected.

Their comments came days after Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, signed legislation Friday that bans all abortions in the state with limited exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities or serious physical risk to the mother.

Democratic House candidate Victoria Garcia Wilburn and Senate candidate Jocelyn Vare said Tuesday they would settle for returning Indiana law to its current status, which allows abortion for any reason up to 20 weeks.

“Health care decisions need to be made by clients and their providers,” Wilburn said. “It is a very slippery slope when we begin to invite the government in.”

The abortion ban drew very little public comment in support during the special session that ended Friday night. Supporters of abortion rights said the measure was too restrictive while anti-abortion groups said it didn’t go far enough.

After Holcomb signed the bill, Mike Fichter, the president and chief executive officer of Indiana Right to Life, said in a statement he was disappointed lawmakers voted down amendments to remove all exceptions other than the mother’s life. “We applaud those House members supporting the amendment for doing all they could to limit SB1’s exceptions,” he wrote. “We will continue to work to build consensus going forward that all lives are to be valued, regardless of the means of one’s conception.”

Democrats on Tuesday said they were confident they could use the abortion issue to break the supermajorities Republicans currently hold in both Indiana legislative chambers. They pointed to reports that an internal GOP survey found 63% of Indiana voters opposed a total abortion ban. A 2019 Ball State University survey found 48% of Hoosiers favor keeping abortion legal in all or most circumstances while just 17% favor banning it entirely.

“The Republicans know the data, but as they did with permitless carry, they chose to ignore what Hoosier voters told them,” said Myla Eldridge, vice chair of the Indiana Democratic Party. “They decided to side with the extremist organizations over creating a better future for all voters. So, Democrats are asking voters to turn the tables on Republicans.”

Asked on Friday whether he was concerned the abortion ban could backfire on Republicans in November, House Speaker Todd Huston, a Republican from Fishers, said if voters are displeased, they will have the opportunity to act on their frustrations.