In wake of new abortion ban, Lilly will look outside Indiana for expansion projects

INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly and Co., one of the largest and oldest companies in Indiana, announced Saturday it will look outside the state for corporate expansion projects in the wake of a sweeping abortion ban passed by the Legislature on Friday.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker said the abortion law could hinder its ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent to Indiana.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law late Friday a Republican-backed bill that will ban virtually all abortions in Indiana, making it the first state to enact abortion-restricting legislation since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The ban takes effect on Sept. 15, at which point Indiana will have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation.

“As a global company headquartered in Indianapolis for more than 145 years, we work hard to retain and attract thousands of people who are important drivers of our state’s economy,” the company said in a statement. “Given this new law, we will be forced to plan for more employment growth outside our home state.”

A Lilly spokeswoman said the company plans to honor its current commitments in Indiana. In May, it announced plans to spend $2.1 billion to open two manufacturing sites in Boone County. The is expected to create up to 500 permanent jobs, along with as many as 1,500 temporary construction jobs at the site north of Lebanon and east of Interstate 65.

Lilly had remained quiet on the abortion issue during the past several weeks in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Nor did it comment publicly during the past two weeks as the Indiana General Assembly debated the issue. The statement issued Saturday was its first public comment on the matter.

“Lilly recognizes that abortion is a divisive and deeply personal issue with no clear consensus among the citizens of Indiana,” the statement said. “Despite this lack of agreement, Indiana has opted to quickly adopt one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States.”

The company said it has expanded its employee health plan coverage to include travel for reproductive services unavailable locally, but added that may not be enough for some current and potential employees.

Few other large companies in Indiana have taken a public position on the abortion debate, although the Indy Chamber on Thursday urged lawmakers to pause their work on the bill.

“Over the last two weeks, the Indiana General Assembly has debated a substantial policy change on the issue of abortion in a compressed timeframe,” the chamber’s statement read. “Such an expedited legislative process—rushing to advance state policy on broad, complex issues—is, at best, detrimental to Hoosiers, and at worst, reckless.

In addition, several hundred smaller companies also signed a petition circulated by the American Civil Liberties Union objecting to the abortion ban.

Under the new law, surgical abortions can only be done in hospitals or standalone ambulatory surgical centers owned by a hospital. The law carves out narrow exceptions for rape, incest, life or physical health of the mother, and some fatal fetal anomalies.

Lilly is the second-largest public company in Indiana by revenue, and the 13th largest employer in the state, with about 10,895 of its total workforce of about 35,000 based here.