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Indiana lawmakers reluctant to answer abortion survey ahead of special session on abortion access

Only 7% of the General Assembly would answer a survey about their position on abortion access ahead of special session to address the issue.

INDIANAPOLIS — Editor's note: At the time this story aired, none of the Republican members of the General Assembly answered 13 Investigates survey questions. On July 8th, Rep. John Jacob R-District 93 reached out to report his press secretary overlooked 13 Investigates emails. His survey responses have been added.

Only seven percent of the General Assembly would answer a survey about their position on abortion access ahead of special session to address the issue.

Elizabeth Bennion, a political science professor at Indiana University South Bend, said the lack of response, especially from Republicans in power, may be a political strategy to keep members on the same page.

“Generally, if nobody within a caucus will talk to the media, that means that the leadership probably requested that people not speak publicly on the record until they've had time to craft language that will result in a bill that passes in the General Assembly,” said Bennion. “They want to leave those internal dynamics and discussions internal.”

Bennion has studied the Indiana General Assembly for more than 20 years. She said the lawmakers' stance is under national and even international scrutiny.

"Coming out as being one of the few legislators on the record at this time, where there is national and International scrutiny, as well as statewide scrutiny on what the Indiana General Assembly is doing, does have some risks for those individual lawmakers,” she said.

Eleven Senate Democrats responded to our survey, which asked the following questions.

13 Investigates sent the following questions to the staff of all 150 members of the General Assembly:

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana?
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk?
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.)
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion?
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue?

The caucus was overwhelmingly in support of not restricting abortion access even if it went against an individual lawmaker’s personal view on abortion.

“Family planning is something that the government should never be in the middle of,” responded Minority Caucus Leader Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis. “Even if you wouldn't personally consider abortion, we cannot project those ideologies onto other people. It’s government overreach to tell people how they should handle such a private matter like family planning.”

“I personally am a pro-life individual, but I believe a woman should have the right to choose,” responded Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend.

RELATED: Indiana special session to address abortion, tax refund pushed back to July 25

Most lawmakers stuck to traditional party lines. With Indiana Democrats showing they were dedicated to maintaining the status quo and Republican lawmakers signaling a want to restrict abortion access further.

How far the GOP will restrict abortion access is unclear. The Republican Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore have both supported restricting abortion access, but say the issue is still under debate.

"Seems like your question implies that we know exactly where we're going,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray in May. “Right now and we simply don't."

Back in May, lawmakers said it was too soon to answer specific questions on the issue. 13 Investigates sent the first email with the survey questions on June 1. The survey was sent out several times and also after the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade and send the issue of abortion access to the states on June 24.

Despite our repeated attempts, no Republican lawmaker answered the specific questions in our survey.

GOP leaders did send out statements that the party was for further restrictions. They also shared a letter signed by 100 senators and representatives calling on Gov. Eric Holcomb to hold a special session if Roe v. Wade was struck down or weakened. 

House Democrats also ignored the survey questions, instead sending a joint statement from the minority leader's spokeswoman.

“House Democrats support the provisions and protections provided under the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that have allowed women to have safe access to abortions for the past 50 years,” stated Hannah Smith, the spokeswoman for Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne.) “If the Supreme Court decides to wholly overturn this precedent – which was hinted at in the verified leaked majority draft opinion – our caucus will work tirelessly to defend a woman’s right to choose in the State of Indiana. Health care and reproductive decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor, not politicians at the Indiana General Assembly.”

You can read the responses from lawmakers that participated below:

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis District 33 – Minority Caucus Leader

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No, I don’t support an abortion ban.
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes, I support legislation allowing women to access all abortion care including in cases of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is at risk.
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) I do not support criminalizing abortion.
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? I do not support any effort to outlaw or ban medical abortion.
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “Family planning is something that the government should never be in the middle of. Even if you wouldn't personally consider abortion, we cannot project those ideologies onto other people. It’s government overreach to tell people how they should handle such a private matter like family planning.”

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary District 3 – Asst. Minority Leader 

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No, I don’t support an abortion ban.
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes, I support legislation allowing women to access all abortion care including in cases of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is at risk.
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) I do not support criminalizing abortion.
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? I do not support any effort to outlaw or ban medical abortion.
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “A woman’s reproductive choice should always be left wholly to the woman. Government intervention in something as private, important and nuanced as family planning is ridiculous, and I will always oppose efforts to restrict women’s reproductive rights.“

Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis District 29 – Minority Caucus Chair

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “I trust women to make this deeply personal decision. Instead of banning abortion, we should focus our efforts on improving access to affordable healthcare, lowering our infant and maternal mortality rates and expanding access to childcare.”

Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington District 40 – Asst. Minority Caucus Chair

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “A woman will always be more qualified than her government—federal, state or local—to make fundamentally private decisions about her own life, her own body and her own future. A vote for abortion restrictions is a vote against women, bodily autonomy and America's ideals of liberty and choice.”

Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago District 2

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No, I don’t support an abortion ban.
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes, I support legislation allowing women to access all abortion care including in cases of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is at risk.
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) I do not support criminalizing abortion.
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? I do not support any effort to outlaw or ban medical abortion.
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? "Overturning Roe v. Wade is a direct attack on women's rights as well as our constitutional fourth amendment right to privacy. This will be the beginning of the roll-back of many rights, and it's terrible. I imagine that more men could understand the impact of having their bodies legislated if women held legislative control and decided to pass a law requiring all men to have vasectomies."

Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis District 34

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “I simply believe that this comes down to a woman's right to choose, not the governments. If we really want to help women and families thrive in Indiana we'd be spending our time improving access to contraceptives, affordable child care, universal Pre-K, paid family leave and antipoverty programs.”

Sen. Rodney Pol, D-Portage District 4

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “I am pro-choice. There are plenty of good policies that will promote healthy families and lower abortion rates such as increased access to childcare, improving access to healthcare and contraceptives, and addressing maternal and infant mortality.”

Sen. Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis District 30

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “I don’t believe that this is a decision that government should be involved in. Women are more than capable of making this decision in consultation with whomever they choose should that be their doctor, a family or a religious leader.”

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Muncie District 25

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “The government should not interfere with a woman's right to choose. Reversing Roe is only a first step in the conservative movement to erode privacy rights.”

Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend District 10

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “I personally am a pro-life individual but I believe a woman should have the right to choose.”

Sen. Michael Griffin, D-Highland District 1

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana? No
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? Yes
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.) No
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? No
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? “This decision is intimately tied into the complex and deeply individual matters of faith, conscience and autonomy—it is not the government's purview to dictate a decision so private and informed by circumstance.”

Rep. John Jacob,  R-District 93

  1. Do you support a complete ban on abortions in Indiana?   Yes.
  2. Do you support legislation that would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, and or if the mother’s life is at risk? No. Rape/Incest, it is cruel and unjust to punish the baby for the crime of the father.  The father should be punished for committing rape; the child should not be executed for the father's crime of rape, which is exactly what is happening in the case of rape/incest. -- However, regarding life of the mother, I would want to see legislation that treats the mother and baby both as a patient and if early delivery is necessary, it can be done, and the baby must be given proper lifesaving care.  If the baby then dies, that is a tragedy, not an abortion.  I have much more to say on this; but that is my very short answer.
  3. Do you support legislation that would criminalize abortion? (Meaning the mother and/or a medical provider could face charges.)  Yes.  Human life begins at conception, abortion is the willful taking of an innocent human beings' life, therefore, it is always murder. Therefore, it should be treated as murder to all involved.
  4. Would you support legislation that would outlaw or ban medication abortion? Yes. Abortion is always murder, whether, surgical or chemical.
  5. In your own words, 1 or 2 sentences, what is your position on the abortion issue? Human life begins at conception, human life is a precious gift from God, and we are all created in the image of God, including the preborn.  God's Word, the Bible, true science/Biology, and IN law, all clearly affirm human life begins at conception and therefore, all preborn human beings should be afforded the same rights and privileges that a born human should have. Abortion is the willful taking of an innocent human beings' life, therefore, it is always murder and should be treated as murder to all involved. It is a national holocaust and barbaric, wicked, and disgusting that this great atrocity has continued for almost 5 decades. You do not regulate murder, you outlaw it; same with abortion.  We are inviting the judgement of God upon our nation by the shedding of the innocent blood of over 65 million aborted/murdered preborn babies. God says He hates the hands that shed innocent blood, which is what abortion always does to an innocent preborn baby. Sadly, we have blood on our hands as a nation.  We each need to repent and turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, who lived a perfect sinless life and willingly went to the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins and He rose again from the dead, bodily, 3 days later. God now invites each of us into a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ to be able to be reconciled to Him, to be forgiven (even for the sin of abortion) to gain eternal life and eternity in heaven and rescue us from our sin and eternal suffering in hell. Jesus offers His death and resurrection freely to all who will repent and place their faith in Him alone as their Savior and Lord; He is the only way to God. Politicians (Republican and Democrat both) have both failed in their responsibility to protect all individuals, born and preborn. I pray they give full justice to all the preborn by passing an all-out ban on abortion with criminalization to all involved.

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