INDIANAPOLIS — Senate Republicans rolled out three bills on Wednesday that would restrict access to abortions, increase access to contraceptives, fund resources for women and children and help Hoosiers weather the storm of surging inflation and rising gas prices.
The bills will be brought forward during the special session scheduled to begin this upcoming Monday, July 25.
"Senate Republicans are today proposing a package that can provide financial relief to all Hoosiers in multiple ways while continuing to pay down our outstanding debt," said Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville. "In addition, we have an opportunity to protect the lives of unborn children following the historic Supreme Court decision last month."
It's important to note that these are only bills being brought to the table by Senate Republicans. Senate Democrats said they also plan to offer up amendments to these bills and propose additional bills during the special session. However, on Wednesday, those plans had not yet been released. Additionally, Indiana House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have not yet rolled out their plan for bills this special session.
With that being said, let's break down the bills being brought forward by Senate Republicans. Here's what you need to know.
Senate Bill 1: Abortion
Senate Bill 1 would limit abortion, but provide several exceptions.
Hitting the highlights
Senate Bill 1 would greatly limit abortions and where they can be done.
If the abortion is necessary to prevent a “substantial permanent impairment of the life of the mother," the bill's summary says.
If the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest
The bill would also make it illegal for clinics that currently provide abortion care to continue providing that care.
Senate Assistant President Pro Tempore Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, said this bill "does not criminalize women seeking an abortion."
The bill's language says it would provide a defense for any pregnant mother who's criminally charged for having or trying to have an abortion. It also specifies that doctors who provide abortions can only be charged with certain crimes.
Not everybody's on board
While this is the bill Senate Republican leaders backed, we know not all members of the caucus are on board.
Sen. Kyle Walker R-District 31 told 13News, “I can’t support Senate Bill 1 in its current form.”
Tuesday night, Senator Kyle Walker R-District 31 stated he supported more restrictions to abortion access but wanted access through about the first trimester. He also supported making sure it was available to victims of rape, incest and in the case of a fatal fetal anomaly or if the life or health of the mother was at risk.
“I think it’s a very nuanced issue,” he said. “It’s one that we all need to be very thoughtful about.”
Indiana Right to Life President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Fichter issued the following statement: "SB 1 is a weak and troubling bill. IRTL brought the voice of prolife Hoosiers to the Senate shortly after the Dobbs ruling, and this bill falls woefully short of what was outlined in that discussion. The bill fails substantively in many areas, but chiefly in its failure to provide any meaningful enforcement provisions. This bill goes through the motions on paper, but lacks any teeth to actually reduce abortions in Indiana by holding those who perform abortions or would intentionally skirt the law accountable with criminal consequences. As the bill reads now, the 8,000-plus abortions that take place annually in Indiana would continue unabated in counties like Marion County where the prosecutor has already stated he will not enforce the law. That is unacceptable and prolife Hoosiers will not silently let that stand."
Rep. John Jacob, R- District 93, issued the following statement in which he said he wouldn't support the bill: “I absolutely would not vote for the abortion bill, SB1, in its present form. It is an evil and wicked bill and is doing nothing more than an abortion expansion. God expects us as legislators to give full and immediate justice and protection for all the pre-born by immediately abolishing all abortion, no exceptions. To do anything less is not pro-life but rather pro death. The bill allocating more funds for women and children I have no comment on at this time.”
There is a list of things Republicans said this bill does not do, including:
- Does not affect access to the morning-after pill or any other method of birth control
- Does not affect treatment of miscarriages
- Does not affect treatment of ectopic pregnancies
- Does not affect in-vitro fertilization procedures
- Does not prohibit ending a pregnancy when the unborn child would not be able to survive due to a fatal fetal anomaly
- Does not criminalize women seeking an abortion
- Does not create any new penalties for doctors who perform abortions – the existing penalty that allows a doctor to have his or her license revoked if he or she performs an illegal abortion will remain in place.
Quotes from state leaders
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville): "Our underlying goal is to protect human life, promote more adoption and less abortion by limiting abortion to life of mother, rape and incest and by being compassionate and supporting pregnant women, some of whom find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances."
Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis): “An abortion ban will result in women dying. Period. When pregnant women cannot access vital components of health care, they are at greater risk of having their pregnancy end in a fatality—especially if they already have existing health conditions or illnesses. It's a shame that our Legislature is moving to take such a drastic step to restrict women's health care access, especially when we know it's against the advice of health care providers, the cries of women and the demands of Hoosiers."
Sen. Sue Glick (R-Dist. 13): "We recognize that there are heartbreaking cases where because of violence committed against women and young girls, we have to provide for some additional exception. That's why the legislation we are introducing also provides exceptions in cases of rape and incest which I believe the majority of Hoosiers accept. Being pro-life is not about criminalizing women, it’s about preserving the dignity of life and helping mothers bring happy, healthy babies into the world.
Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-House Dist. 87): "I'm extremely concerned. This is a total ban on abortion for women except for a few narrow exceptions. This is an extreme proposal and we know that Hoosier women will die and that families will suffer because of this proposal as it is presented today. I respect people's personal positions when it comes to abortion, I absolutely sincerely do. I just don't believe those positions can be imposed on other people and that's what we're talking about with this extreme proposal today."
Senate Bill 2: Resources for women, children
Senate Bill 2 focuses on funding programs for women who could become pregnant, are pregnant, new moms, babies and families. It is meant as a companion bill to Senate Bill 1.
Hitting the highlights
Senate Bill 2 will create the Hoosier Families First Fund, which would provide $45 million for eligible existing and new programs to address:
- Funding to support the health of pregnant mothers
- Maternal support services and pregnancy resource centers
- Access to contraception
- Pregnancy planning, including removing barriers to long-acting reversible contraception
- Needs of low-income families with children under four years old
- Increased access to child care
- Support for foster and adoptive care
- Programs to prevent children from entering the DCS system
- Funding for Safe Haven baby boxes and more.
Senate Bill 2 would also include $5 million to help increase the adoption credit from $1,000 to $10,000.
Quotes from state leaders
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville): "We will continue to look for ways to cut red tape and reduce the cost of adoption in the upcoming legislative session."
Senate Bill 3: Helping Hoosiers with inflation
Senators also detailed Senate Bill 3 to help Hoosiers with inflation, but it does not include a tax refund.
Hitting the highlights
Senate Republicans are proposing a few breaks for Hoosiers instead of a tax refund. Those breaks include the following:
- A six-month reprieve on the 7% sales tax on all residential utility bills
- No further increase in gas taxes, it cannot go above 29.5 cents/gallon through June 30, 2023
- Suspends the increase to the gas tax and special fuel tax that took effect on July 1, effective through June 30, 2023. This policy will reduce the gas tax by 1 cent per gallon and the special fuel tax by 2 cents per gallon.
Additional surplus money, $400 million worth, will be used to pay down the teachers' pension fund.
Around $215 million would be used to fund capital projects that are outpaced by inflation-related construction costs.
The Senators said the suspension of sales tax on utilities and capping the gas tax is a better way to help Hoosiers than a $225 additional refund check proposed by Holcomb.
Quotes from state leaders
State Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle): "We have had ongoing discussions about what the best way is to provide relief to Hoosiers in this environment of high inflation. By suspending the 7% sales tax on residential utilities, we can provide relief to nearly every Hoosier, with an estimated statewide savings of $260 million. This concept would benefit more people than the proposed taxpayer refund, and all of the savings would go to Indiana households."
House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, rejected Senate Bill 3. He is pushing for the $225 tax refund to Hoosiers. In a statement he said: “Hoosiers need help now and Indiana is in a position to give them back their money."
What Indiana House bills could look like
House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, released the following statement with some details on what the House version of the abortion bill would look like. He does not include to what extent the ban would be and if there would be exceptions:
"Our proposal includes more than $20 million in tax exemptions and appropriates more than $58 million to boost proven programs, including helping more mothers in crisis, increasing availability and affordability of child care, supporting community-based programs focused on healthy babies and families, and encouraging more people to consider adoption. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues and the governor in the days and weeks ahead, and I'm confident we'll find a thoughtful way forward that shows compassion for both mothers and babies."
Holcomb on Special Session
Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he's pro-life and called the special session "an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life."
On Wednesday, 13News asked Holcomb if he would support an abortion ban that included certain exceptions.
"I’m gonna wait to see the language. This is something I’ve been consistent with the leaders that I want to see where we can build consensus and make progress. And so before I start to get into individual ultimatums or this is in or this is out, we’ve got a few weeks ahead to clarify that," Holcomb said.
Right now, abortion is still legal in Indiana, but there are limits.