September 9, 2022

Most abortions in Indiana to end on Sept. 15, pending possible injunction

By Natalie Hoefer

It is a day that has been fought for and anticipated for nearly 50 years, an historic day. Barring a potential temporary injunction from a recent lawsuit, Indiana will become almost abortion-free on Sept. 15.

The date was set in Indiana’s new Senate Enrolled Act 1 (SEA 1), passed on Aug. 5. The law makes performing abortions a felony with the exceptions of rape and incest until up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and fetal abnormalities or medical emergencies until 20-22 weeks of pregnancy.

“As I witness this historic moment in our state, I rejoice that the prayers of the faithful have been answered and our Indiana state laws will better protect the vulnerable unborn and will protect mothers and fathers from the trauma of abortion,” said Brie Anne Varick, coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity.

“This law can teach and inform our culture,” said Alexander Mingus, associate director of the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC), the public policy arm of the Church in Indiana. “I see this as the beginning of much more to take place.

“My hope is for the law to be a slow teacher to help people rediscovering the humanity of the pre-born. That will bring the changing of hearts and minds we’ve talked about for so long. The enactment of this law is a big step.”

‘We are confident the state will prevail’

A lawsuit filed on Aug. 30 by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union could result in a temporary injunction on the Sept. 15 date as the case is addressed by the court. As of The Criterion going to press, no such announcement had been made.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Monroe County, claims that SEA 1 violates the right to privacy and equal protections under the Indiana Constitution.

“Everything is pure speculation at this point,” said Mingus. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a preliminary injunction. From there, it depends on how the judge moves forward.

“I’ve heard that it’s not likely the case will work out in Planned Parenthood’s favor. Their arguments are similar to [those made in] the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case” that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, he said. “I don’t see the language of the Indiana Constitution changing.

“But again, it’s all speculation right now. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.”

Sen. Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), Indiana Senate president pro tem, issued a statement that same day, saying, “We set out to pass a bill in the special session that would protect life and support mothers and babies, and that’s what we did. It was always our intent to draft a bill that could withstand a constitutional challenge, and I hope to see that will be the case.”

Indiana Right to Life president and CEO Mike Fichter also released a statement on Aug. 30 in response to the lawsuit.

“Not only is there no right to an abortion in the Indiana Constitution, it actually states life is one of our inalienable rights,” he said. “We are confident the state will prevail and

pray the new law is not blocked from going into effect on Sept. 15, knowing that any delay will mean the indiscriminate killing of unborn children will continue at abortion [facilities] across Indiana.”

Meanwhile, as long as abortions up to 22 weeks gestation remain legal in Indiana, abortion centers, physicians and hospitals will now be required to report 25 specific abortion complications to the Indiana Department of Health, thanks to another pro-life win for the state on Aug. 29.

On that date, the United States Southern Indiana District Court dismissed a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood challenging a 2018 Indiana law that required such reporting.

“The legislature had a legitimate concern that researchers have insufficient data available to study

the safety of abortion,” Indiana Attorney General Rokita said in an Aug. 30 statement. “This law advances the causes of compassion, common sense, medical science and public health.”

‘Double our efforts to walk with moms’

With the date for the end of most abortions in Indiana on the horizon, the focus has shifted to supporting pregnant and parenting moms and their children.

Part of Indiana Senate Enrolled Act 2 (SEA 2), also passed on Aug. 5, provides funds for this purpose.

According to an Indiana Senate Republican news release issued on Aug. 5, SEA 2 allocated $42 million to “programs like the Nurse Family Partnership, Child Care Development Fund, Safety PIN program, Safe Haven baby boxes” and more. An additional $45 million will go to the new Hoosier Families First Fund, “which allows the state the flexibility to add funds to programs that help support healthy pregnancies and families.”

Senate Enrolled Act 2 also increased the adoption tax credit to $2,500 for each eligible child and created a $3,000 income-tax exemption for each adopted child on top of the existing $1,500 exemption for all dependents.

“We were happy to see those included,” said Mingus. “There’s good stuff in [SEA 2] and momentum going into the next session to do more.

“But we do have concerns about how the distribution of the funds is going to work.”

ICC executive director Angela Espada agreed.

“While $45 million sounds like plenty, this amount is distributed among Indiana’s 92 counties for various needs,” said Espada.

“The result is that the resources will be stretched entirely too thin to adequately provide for the needs of Hoosier women and families.”

She also noted that state-provided funds “should not be any excuse for Catholics to lessen contributions of time, talent and treasure within their own communities” in terms of supporting women and families.

Varick agreed.

“There is great work left to do, she said. “The reversal of Roe has revealed the division in our state and our nation. We must continue to fast and pray for the conversion and healing of our nation, for those who are angry, confused and fearful, for those who grieve and suffer the trauma of abortion.

“We must double our efforts to walk with moms so they know they are not alone.”
 

(Go to www.walkingwithmomsindy.org for an ongoing list of resources in the archdiocese that can be referred to moms in need and used to identify places to support financially, with donated items or through volunteering.)

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