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

The session had been set to begin on July 6.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb, Speaker Todd Huston and Senate Pro Tem Rodric Bray announced plans Wednesday to postpone the start of a special session to July 25.

As the special session will now address an abortion ban, after the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, legislative leaders are anticipating a multi-week special session versus one or two days. Republican lawmakers said they worked with the governor to push the start date back almost three weeks.

The Republican supermajority in the legislature is expected to pass some sort of abortion ban during the session. Insiders within the party told 13News if there are any exceptions to that ban, they would be very few. 

Those exceptions could include pregnancies in cases of rape, incest or where the mother’s life is in danger.

Holcomb has said he's pro-life and called the special session "an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life."

Right now, abortion is still legal in Indiana, but there are limits. Surgical abortions are banned after 22 weeks, with some exceptions for later if the mother's life is in danger.

State law requires two appointments and an 18-hour waiting period before one can get an abortion, and doctors must share alternatives to the procedure before it can happen. 

Abortions through medication can only happen before a pregnancy reaches 10 weeks, the medication must come from a doctor and the pills must be taken in front of a doctor. 

Most minors in Indiana need parental consent to get an abortion.

The Indiana Democratic Party released the following response to the postponement:

"The Indiana GOP are scared because they’ve seen the protests and have heard from Hoosier women. They are waiting for the dust to settle before they push their extreme agenda that includes a total ban on abortions - even in cases of rape and incest. Only 17% of Hoosiers support this extreme policy, and Democrats are ready to hold them accountable for trying to throw Indiana back to the 1950's."

Indiana abortion numbers up

According to the state's 2020 Terminated Pregnancy Report, abortions dropped significantly from 2015 to 2016. However, the number of abortions went up and stayed above the 2016 numbers through 2020.

In Indiana, unmarried women are most likely to get an abortion, but 15% of them were sought out by married women. White women made up 49% of cases, however, Black women made up 34% of abortions despite representing less than 10% of Indiana’s population that year. More than half, 62% of the women terminating their pregnancy were mothers with living children.  

In 2020, the state reported 7,372 abortions by residents. The rate was 5.7 per 1,000 15- to 44-year-olds. When including nonresidents, the number of in-state abortions increased to 7,756 with the majority of out-of-state pregnant women coming from Kentucky.

RELATED: Abortion is still technically legal in Indiana. Here's what current law states

However, the Guttmacher Institute reports its 2020 survey learned of 124 more abortions and listed the rate at six abortions per 1,000 women. The research and policy organization says its provider census does not include miscarriages or treatment of ectopic pregnancies.

$225 tax refund for Hoosiers

Bray and Huston also expect to address the state's budget surplus and the governor's plan to pay out $225 to taxpayers in the special session. The $225 would be in addition to the previously announced $125 from the automatic taxpayer refund — to help ease the financial strain many Hoosiers are feeling.

The state currently has more than $1 billion in surplus for the fiscal year.

Under the plan, individual taxpayers would receive about $225, while married couples filing jointly would receive around $450. That, paired with the $125 — or $250 for joint filers — that has already begun hitting some Hoosiers' accounts, brings the total to $350 for individuals or $700 for couples to get back from the state.

Indiana AG asks courts to lift injunctions on multiple abortion laws

On Monday, Indiana's attorney general asked the courts to lift injunctions against several Indiana abortion laws.

"Like most Hoosiers, I believe in building a culture of life in Indiana," Todd Rokita said. "That means protecting the lives of unborn babies and safeguarding the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their mothers. I'll do everything in my power to advance this mission."

According to Rokita's office, the laws include: 

  • A ban on discriminatory abortions sought specifically because of the unborn child’s race, sex, or disability.
  • A ban on dismemberment abortions, in which living unborn children are dismembered piece by piece.
  • A requirement that parents be notified when a court approves an abortion for a minor child without parental consent (barring extenuating circumstances such as reason to believe such notification could endanger the child).

"Indiana has a long history of defending life," Rokita said, "and the Supreme Court has recognized these contributions. Indeed, the Dobbs decision expressly cited multiple Indiana cases, such as our battles to outlaw discriminatory abortion and require respectful disposition of the bodies of aborted babies."

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