Indiana state Legislature has passed an anti-abortion bill so egregious that even ardent anti-abortion Republicans are concerned about the effect it will have on women in the state.
If House Bill 1337 is signed into law, abortions sought because a fetus has been diagnosed with a disability (such as Down syndrome) will be banned. Abortions sought over a fetus's gender, nationality, race, or ancestry will also be banned. Providers who perform such abortions could be sued for wrongful death. This bill also requires pregnant women to view the fetal ultrasound and hear the heartbeat at least 18 hours before the abortion procedure, requires providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, requires providers or individuals in possession of aborted or miscarried fetal to cremate or bury them, and criminalizes the transferring or collecting fetal tissue, which would become a felony.
If enacted, Indiana would become the second state (after North Dakota) to ban abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders.
The bill has rattled several anti-choice Republicans. CBS reports that the abortion ban was sneakily introduced to the bill when it landed in the Senate, after the bill had already passed in the House. It was then sent for a vote in the House without any negotiation or debate.
Amazingly, anti-choice Republicans who oppose the ban sound like pro-choice feminists when they voice their complaints. Rep. Sharon Negele, a Republican who previously took aim at Planned Parenthood with an anti-abortion bill last year, told CBS, "The bill does nothing to save innocent lives. There's no education, there's no funding. It's just penalties."
Rep. Sean Eberhart, also a Republican, said that he discussed the bill with his wife—who is staunchly anti-choice. Even she found the bill abhorrent. "Today is a perfect example [of] a bunch of middle-aged guys sitting in this room making decisions about what we think is best for women," Eberhart said. "We need to quit pretending we know what's best for women and their health care needs."
The other provisions in this sweeping anti-abortion legislation bill aren't really doing women any favors either. The law will undoubtedly increase costs to women who have to travel long distances to abortion clinics or who have to pay for cremation or burial services, will emotionally burden women during their pregnancy, will impede honest communication between patients and their doctors, and will deter medical researchers from using or collecting fetal tissue for their work. These hurdles, sadly, are in line with the increasing number of anti-abortion restrictions that Republicans have been enforcing across America since 2010. The fate of some of these prohibitive laws currently rest at the feet of the Supreme Court, which last week heard oral arguments for a Texas anti-abortion law.
Indiana Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma is not thinking of the living and breathing women whose lives will be forever altered by these laws, however. Instead, he is thinking of the fetuses—or as he refers to them, the "unborn children."
"Those unborn children are Hoosiers and they have constitutional rights," he said after the bill's passage. "We're not making a determination about women's health. We are trying to protect the right of the unborn; they cannot speak for themselves."
The bill now goes to Governor Mike Pence for consideration.
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