On Thursday, March 24, Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence signed a bill barring women from seeking abortions due to fetus disability, abnormality, or gender. Indiana is known to have some of the most tightest abortion laws, and this controversial restriction has has been noted as one of the tightest laws in the nation.
Pence stated the bill, House Enrolled Act 1337, is a “comprehensive pro-life measure… [and] will ensure that dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down Syndrome.”
‘”Some of my most precious moments as Governor have been with families of children with disabilities,” he added. “Especially those raising children with Down Syndrome.”
Anti-abortion group, Indiana Right to Life, has saluted pence for forbidden women to discriminate against “the unborn.”
“We are pleased that our state values life no matter an individual’s potential disability, gender or race,” Mike Fichter, the organization’s president, said in a statement.
However, Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith has stated that even some anti-abortion lawmakers thought the legislation was a step too far:
“Several state lawmakers. including Republicans who’ve authored anti-abortion legislation in the past, argued vehemently against it. They said the measure, which bans abortions performed because of a fetus’ characteristics, demeans women and lacks compassion.
“One lawmaker said it signals a return to the time of backroom abortions. Doctors urged the governor to veto the bill, warning that patients could feel pressure to lie to their doctors.”
The head of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Betty Cockrum, has condemned the bill stating that “it is clear the governor is more comfortable practicing medicine without a license than behaving [as] a responsible lawyer, as he picks and chooses which constitutional rights are appropriate. The local Planned Parenthood branch has stated “it will ask a court to block the measure” before law comes into force in June of this year.
Even Democrat Presidential Candidate, Bernie Sanders, took to Twitter to criticize the Pence stating that “the decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana.”
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
NPR’s Jennifer Ludden has reporting that “North Dakota was the first state to pass such a ban, in 2013, although abortion providers say it’s difficult to enforce. The law depends on a woman declaring the anomaly as her reason to abort. Indiana’s law goes further — it also bans abortion based on race, sex, national origin, ancestry, and color.”
As well as holding doctors legally liable for these type of abortions, “the law restricts fetal tissue donation and requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital or to have an agreement with a doctor who does,” The New York Times reports.
“Seeing them all in one place, that is very striking,” Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen has stated. “It’s like the kitchen sink: Everything that isn’t already in the law. And the law is already really restrictive.”
This is not the first time Pence has come under scrutiny for introducing a highly socially conservative law. Last year, he pushed a religious freedom bill that many LGBT rights activists criticized for being discriminatory and restrictive. He later signed a “fix” for the bill.