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A closer look at Right to Life's abortion ban proposal for Indiana lawmakers

The proposal would outlaw abortion in most cases, except when the mother's life is in danger and, potentially, when rape and incest were reported as a crime.

INDIANAPOLIS — 13News reviewed a 29-page document, written by the Bopp Law Firm based in Terre Haute. In it, is a proposal, outlining what attorneys who represent Indiana Right to Life and the general counsel for The National Right to Life Committee say states should include in their abortion legislation now that the future of abortion access is back in the hands of state lawmakers. 

James Bopp Jr., with the firm, said the proposal has been distributed to all National Right to Life Committee Chapters across the country so that they could pass it onto to state lawmakers. 

Bopp confirms the proposal is in the hands of some Indiana legislators

The proposal advises states must first decide which abortions will be prohibited by law and which ones will be allowed and under what conditions. 

“We recommend prohibiting abortion except to prevent the death of the pregnant woman,” it reads. 

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

Even after a doctor performs the procedure to save the mother’s life, Bopp said, care should not stop there. 

“They should do whatever can be done, reasonably can be done, to preserve the life of the baby as well, including being in a hospital with prenatal care and having a second physician there to take care of protecting and preserving the baby’s life,” Bopp said. 

Exceptions

The document also advises that some exceptions may be necessary in certain states “such as for a woman pregnant as a result of rape and incest.”  

If that’s the case, according to the proposal, the doctor performing the abortion must have proof that a crime has been reported to police. 

'Effective enforcement regime'

The other recommendation outlined details what attorneys call “an effective enforcement regime,” furthering stating that “current realities” mean criminal penalties won’t be enough to stop people from breaking state abortion laws. 

The proposal recommends a person who causes an abortion, except for the pregnant woman, should be subject to a level 2 felony if the unborn child dies and a level 3 felony if it survives.  

“The woman is not subject to any criminal or civil liabilities. We specifically provide that to protect the woman,” Bopp said. 

Criminal penalties would also include anyone who helps the abortion take place. 

What kind of help? 

According to the proposal that could include, giving instructions over the phone, internet or other means of communication on how to give yourself an abortion or how to get one. 

Helping with an abortion could also include hosting or maintaining a website and communicating with someone through it, encouraging them on how to get an illegal abortion, or giving someone information on where to get one. 

The document given to lawmakers, covers criminal, civil and licensing penalties for doctors who perform an illegal abortion or for those who help pregnant people get one. 

“He could be prosecuted criminally, a felony. He could be sued for damages, including by the pregnant woman who had the abortion if she is injured. The attorney general or the woman, the father of the child could bring an injunction action to prevent him from doing illegal abortions and he could lose his license,” Bopp said of a doctor who provides an illegal abortion. 

Providing medication that would result in an abortion is also prohibited under the proposal. 

“If somebody traffics in abortion ending drugs, possesses them, offers them for sale, distributes them to somebody who they know is going to be using it for an illegal abortion, then, yes, they can be prosecuted,” Bopp added. 

Taking a minor across state lines without their parents knowing, so they can get an abortion where it’s legal, is also addressed in the document. 

Anyone who does that could be face penalties for “illegal abortion trafficking of a minor… a level 3 felony.”   

The proposal also addresses prosecutors who would fail to bring charges against doctors who perform illegal abortions or those who would help people get them. 

In those cases, the attorney general could still bring charges anyway. 

Contraception

Bopp also addressed the use of IUD’s and Plan B. He said neither are used to abort a pregnancy, but only to prevent one.  

So, under this proposal, Bopp said they would not be prohibited.  

RELATED: First over-the-counter birth control pill seeks FDA approval

Democrat responds

Indiana State Rep. Maureen Bauer, D-South Bend, has seen the proposal and offered this statement:

“While we still wait to see Republicans’ draft proposed legislation, the Bopp model law is extremely concerning. The current Indiana laws on abortion are already incredibly conservative, while still allowing physicians to perform often-necessary medical procedures safely.

In a state where it is statistically more dangerous to be pregnant with the third-highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, we should not criminalize and chase off doctors from our state.

While we wait to see the proposal from the GOP, who have been meeting among themselves behind closed doors, equal time should be given to the citizens of Indiana as what has been given to special interest lobbyists.

I am calling on my Republican colleagues to instead, listen to the opinions and wishes of Hoosiers. Give whatever bill they propose a thorough debate and public hearing process. Each and every Hoosier who travels to Indianapolis to testify on this bill should be given their full three minutes time before their legislator. No one should be turned away due to a lack of time.

The Indiana General Assembly must join the majority of Hoosiers in affirming our trust in women to make their own health care decisions, without interference from politicians and law enforcement, and not cede ground to the fringes of the political spectrum. The lives and well-being of our mothers, sisters, and daughters today, and in the future, depend on it.”

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