With November's election producing Republican majorities in the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate, pro-life activists expect 2011 to be a very good year for their cause.
“For the first time in several years, we have an opportunity to have bills heard. Ninety-eight percent of the new legislators are actively, passionately pro-life. We're getting so many bills because there are so many freshmen lining up asking, ‘How can I introduce a bill?' ” Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee Field Coordinator Sue Swayze said Friday at a legislative briefing for local reporters.
At least 13 pro-life bills have been introduced, which is probably more than can be passed in a session that must also deal with education reform, budget problems and other challenges. So the PAC has identified bills and causes it considers priorities:
• House Bill 1205 would prevent the state from entering into contracts with or making grants to any entity that performs abortions or operates facilities in which they are performed. Planned Parenthood receives $1.6 million in state-directed funds annually, Swayze said.
• Senate Bill 116 would require Indiana to opt out of abortion coverage offered by any health plan under the new federal health-care reform act. Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, is among the sponsors.
• Senate Bill 457 is an “informed consent” law that would require women to be informed orally and in writing with information pertaining to abortion, such as adoption and fetal development. Kruse and Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) are among the sponsors. “The more you know, the less likely you are to make a decision (to have an abortion),” Swayze said.
• Senate Bill 1258 would regulate chemically induced abortions. A chemical-abortion clinic on Coliseum Boulevard recently closed, but the procedure remains a “horrific circumstance” for women using it, Allen County Right to Life Executive Director Cathie Humbarger said. “The home becomes an abortion mill.” Sponsors include freshman Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne.
• Senate Bill 522 would ban abortion after 20 weeks – the point at which Humbarger said the fetus is capable of feeling pain. Nebraska passed a similar bill that has not yet been challenged in the courts, she added.
There's even a bill that would outlaw abortion entirely – should the Supreme Court ever repeal its Roe vs. Wade decision.
Many of these could be consolidated into a single pro-life omnibus bill, Swayze said.
“It won't be a cakewalk, but it could be a banner year,” Swayze said. “I'd love to put myself out of business.”