NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Conservative activist groups make waves too

Two pieces of legislation that have passed the Indiana House of Representatives and appear to be headed for Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk for his signature are examples of how the activism of conservatives in Indiana can make a difference.

Senate bills 65 and 340 represent issues of concern to those who are pro-family and pro-life. SB 65 would require schools to notify parents when they will be teaching on controversial topics such as human sexuality. SB 340 would, among other things, require abortion providers to inform the state of prior violations or convictions in other states before applying for a license to open an abortion clinic in Indiana.

SB 65 requires a written consent form from a child’s parent or guardian before conducting any instruction on sexual activity, sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill as it is currently written would require schools to make two attempts to notify parents to allow them to review sex education curricula and “opt” their student out of such instruction.

The bill needs to go back to its author, Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, who must agree with the changes or work things out in conference committee.

Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, was a co-author of the bill, which passed the House by a vote of 69-27. Of our area representatives, Republicans Ben Smaltz, District 52, Matthew Lehman (79), Martin Carbaugh (81), Christopher Judy (83), Bob Morris (84) and David Heine (85) all voted in favor of the bill. Republicans Dan Leonard (50) and David Ober (82) voted with Democrat Phil Giaquinta (80) against.

Both chambers also approved SB 340, which would require all abortion clinics, along with any health care provider, to report any complication arising from an abortion to the state department of health. It also would require women using abortion pills to sign a form saying they have been told of the manufacturers’ instructions regarding the use of that drug.

The House public policy committee added a provision regarding fire stations’ use of baby boxes, which allow people to anonymously drop off newborns.

The amended bill is now awaiting a Senate vote on the changes.

Sen. Brown was an author of SB 340, co-authored by Kruse. It passed the House 67-26 with Leonard, Smaltz, Lehman, Carbaugh, Judy, Morris and Heine voting in favor. Giaquinta and Ober voted against.

Among state activists in support of the two bills were conservative political advocacy group Advance America, the American Family Association, a non-profit that promotes fundamentalist Christian values, and the non-profit lobbying group Indiana Family Institute.

Ryan McCann, Director of Operations and Public Policy at IFI said, “These developments remind us that what we are doing is working – and that citizen activism truly makes a difference in public policy.”