Legislators share views on Roe v. Wade leak

A leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft published by POLITICO signals the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer, which would put matters into states’ hands and could ban abortion.

Right now, abortion is legal in Indiana, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, then abortion rights will be affected here and across the nation, and Hoosiers have a lot to say about that.

Indiana legislators wrote a letter on March 8 to Gov. Eric Holcomb asking to call a special session if the Supreme Court rules to “expand Indiana’s ability to protect unborn children.”

The legislators from both the House and Senate said they must uphold their duties to Hoosiers by making sure that Indiana’s state laws align with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“As a state that recognizes that life is a precious gift that should never be neglected, it is our desire that you, as the Governor of Indiana, ensure that those values are upheld without delay,” said the 100 legislators who signed the letter.

Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, who signed the letter, said he stands ready to take action to promote life.

He said lawmakers will be digesting the opinion of the Supreme Court and how it affects the Roe v. Wade decision. He said he prays the Supreme Court will make an anti-abortion decision and that Indiana will take action to protect lives.

“I believe that every life has value and these are the most vulnerable in our society. And it’s always been a passion of mine to protect the most vulnerable,” Lauer told The Statehouse File.

Rep. Joanna King, R-Elkhart, who also signed the letter to the governor, was surprised at the leak, saying, “That happening at the Supreme Court is concerning; however, I’ve read through all the documents and the reports, and I’m pleased to see what looks like could be a monumental decision and will be a monumental decision to support what I have always believed. And that is that the sanctity of life is something that we must protect, and I look forward to working with my colleagues at the Statehouse to make that decision.”

King emphasized that it will be a group effort and not just one person making the decision.

“It’s a group of legislators, and I think Indiana has elected very good legislators. I think we have the ability to make the best decision for the unborn child, and I look forward to doing that,” she said.

“The Constitution talks about having the right to life, and I think that we need to protect that at the earliest stage we possibly can. I’m looking forward to truly making Indiana one of the most pro-life states,” King said.

Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, another signer of the letter, said in an email, “A leak on an issue of this magnitude is certainly surprising, but if it is true that this is the direction the Court is headed, it is good news and suggests Indiana will be in a position to improve our record as a strong defender of life.

“It is premature to say exactly what legislation could look like, given that nothing is final until the actual ruling is handed down, but we will continue watching this issue closely and be ready to act to improve protections for life.”

Nicole Erwin, the communications manager for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said abortion in Indiana is a right.

“A person’s ability to access essential reproductive health care should never be determined by their ZIP code or their income,” Erwin said. “If anti-abortion legislators in Indiana have their way, people will either be forced to flee their home state for care or remain pregnant against their will.

“People who can afford to leave the state, take time off work and pay for the procedure will be able to access abortion in states that have protected the right to care. Those who can’t afford it won’t be able to.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Abortions in Indiana represent 0.9% of all abortions in the United States.” Indiana is ranked fifth in the nation for its current abortion controls, according to Americans United for Life.

Women4Change is a nonpartisan organization that advocates for the health, safety and dignity of women. Haley Bougher, vice president for Women4Change said the issue is something that will affect all Hoosiers, not just specific demographics.

After the news was released, Bougher discussed how many people were in panic and shock.

“I know me personally, it kind of took my breath away. I knew that this was something that could likely happen in the summer, but it still just stopped me in my tracks,” she said. “I think a lot of people are scared. I think a lot of people are looking at other states. I think a lot of young Hoosiers are making decisions about where they want to live and have families.”

After the leak came out, Indiana Right to Life president and chief executive officer Mike Fitcher said, “If the POLITICO report is true, and it bears out in the final ruling, this will be a monumentally historical moment that demonstrates how far we’ve evolved since 1973 in medical science, compassion for unborn babies, and support for pregnant mothers. And, rather than judges handing down decisions about unborn life, Hoosiers will have the chance to come together to demonstrate our value for life and commitment that every person deserves to be born.”

Christina Francis, an OB-GYN, board member of the Indiana Right to Life and chair of the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says she is opposed to abortion. “It not only ends the life of one of my patients, my pre-born patient,” she said, “but it also has significant adverse effects on my other patient, the mother.”

Francis hopes Roe v. Wade gets overturned and that the decision will return to the states.

“Abortion is not the answer, abortion puts a bandaid on a social problem. It doesn’t fix anything,” she said.