Indiana lawmakers plan to address abortion at July special session

Indiana lawmakers are expecting to see action taken toward tightening the state’s abortion law following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade Friday.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 court ruling that protected a woman’s decision to have an abortion. The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this step.

Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that both Roe and the decision rendered in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed the right to abortion, were wrong the day they were decided and must be overturned. The authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches, not the courts, Alito wrote.

Joining Alito in the majority were Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are Trump appointees. Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.

Chief Justice John Roberts would have stopped short of ending the abortion right, noting that he would have upheld the Mississippi law at the heart of the case, a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and said no more.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — the liberal wing of the court — were in dissent, The Associated Press reported.

‘A new day for our nation’

People against abortion cheered the ruling, but abortion rights supporters, including President Joe Biden, expressed dismay and pledged to restore the right to abortion following the Supreme Court decision.

“It’s a sad day for the court and for the country,” Biden said at the White House. He urged voters to make it a defining issue in the November elections, declaring, “This decision must not be the final word.”

Indiana lawmakers, both at the U.S. Capitol and in the Indiana Statehouse, expressed support for the decision.

Indiana Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young both expressed support for the decision, with Braun saying on Twitter he looks forward to “crafting solutions that will defend the unborn and save lives.”

Rep. Greg Pence, R-Columbus, said on Twitter he was happy to see the decision from the Supreme Court and that it affirmed that every person is granted the right to life under the Constitution, he said.

Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Associated Press

“Today is a new day for our nation – when Life wins, Freedom wins,” Pence tweeted.

Shortly after the decision was announced, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, said he expected the Indiana General Assembly to take up the state’s abortion law during an already called for special session on July 6. The session was called for earlier this week to address refunds for state taxpayers.

It is now up to states to address this important issue, he said in a statement.

“I have been clear in stating I am pro-life,” Holcomb said. “We have an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life, and that’s exactly what we will do.”

The leaders of the Republican-led Indiana legislature both said they were glad the court’s decision will return regulation of abortion to the states.

House Speaker Todd Huston told the Associated Press he expected lawmakers will take action to protect life when they returned to the Statehouse.

State officials will now begin to formulate a policy that protects unborn children and cares for the health and lives of mothers and their babies, Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said in a statement.

Lawmakers plan to proceed with the conversation in a civil and substantive way so that all sides have the opportunity to be heard, he said.

Local lawmakers also expressed support for the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

State Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, said it is critical for Indiana lawmakers to make sure state laws go further to protect unborn Hoosiers. With the ruling, Davis is ready to further strengthen Indiana’s pro-life laws while also expanding resources and services to help pregnant mothers and their newborn babies, she said in a statement.

Calling the ruling “monumental,” State Rep. John Young, R-Franklin, said the ruling will quickly reshape the state and nation. Indiana will continue to be a leader as the protector of the unborn and advocate for mothers and their babies, Young said in a statement.

State Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, reiterated his call for Holcomb to pass a bill authored by him and State Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, during the 2022 session which seeks to criminalize and end abortion in Indiana without exceptions or compromises. Nisly has brought up the bill every year since 2017, and Jacob has authored the bill with Nisly for the last two years, Jacob wrote in a Facebook post posted Friday afternoon.

“It’s time to stop playing political games and abolish abortion in Indiana,” he said.

Hoosier groups react

Officials with the Indiana Democratic Party said that in the aftermath of the decision, generations of women will be forced to make dangerous decisions that many people thought were “left in history books.” The days to get a legal and safe abortion in Indiana are now numbered, Myla Eldridge, vice-chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Eldridge said she is most concerned about lawmakers’ willingness to call for a special

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. The Associated Press

session and use taxpayer dollars to ban the medical procedure in the state. Several politicians have already signed pledges wishing for the state to enact a total ban on abortions, including in the cases of rape, incest or saving the life of the mother, she said.

“The Indiana Democratic Party sides with the 83% of Hoosiers who believe access to abortions should be legal in some form,” Eldridge said. “We side with the belief that it’s truly only a woman’s right to choose, and the belief that a politician has no business being in a doctor’s office with a woman and her doctor.”

The Johnson County Democratic party called Alito’s opinion in the decision “disgusting,” and called the Republican party the “party of hate,” in a Facebook post posted Friday afternoon.

“If your rights and this democracy matter to you, we’re pleading that you get involved, you volunteer, you run for office, and you vote. Your life truly depends on it,” the post says.

Other organizations expressed support and disdain for the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Rebecca Gibron, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Great Northwest, Hawaii, Indiana and Kentucky, said Planned Parenthood will never back down in Indiana. The organization will continue to keep fighting with everything they’ve got to ensure that everyone can access the care they need to control their body and life, she said in a statement.

The Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the decision will lead to additional hurdles for Indiana women, and that the rule could have deadly consequences. The state is already facing a severe maternal mortality crisis, with Indiana’s maternal mortality rate being the third-worst in the nation, officials said in a statement.

ACLU officials also said they would do everything within their power to block any ban in the courts, and that they aren’t waiting to take additional action.

“Now is the time to let Indiana elected officials know that we will not stand by as they take away women’s rights. We are mobilizing people and urging Hoosiers to hold politicians accountable,” Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director, said in a statement.

Rallies planned Saturday

Both pro-choice and pro-life rallies are planned in Indianapolis on Saturday as advocates plan to make their voices heard.

The ACLU of Indiana, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates and Women4Change Indiana plan to host an “emergency rally” at the Indiana Statehouse to demand state lawmakers and Holcomb keep abortion safe, legal and accessible in Indiana, the organizations say. The rally will begin at 11 a.m. on the west side of the Statehouse.

A few hours later at 2 p.m., Stand For Life Indiana will be holding a rally at the Statehouse to call on elected officials to end abortion in Indiana. The rally was planned prior to the Supreme Court decision and was originally intended to call on Holcomb to reconvene the state legislature to vote immediately on ending abortion in the state. The rally will begin at 2 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.