Abortion Restrictions in Indiana Signed Into Law

     INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a controversial abortion bill putting heavy restrictions on doctors and women seeking an abortion, and banning abortions motivated by a fetus’ race, gender or medical diagnosis.
     The Republican-backed House Bill 1337 was passed earlier this month by the Legislature and makes Indiana just the second state to levy such broad abortion restrictions, behind only North Dakota. The governor signed it into law on Thursday.
     Specifically, the measure prevents a pregnant woman from undergoing an abortion procedure if the reasons are motivated by the fetus’ race, color, national origin, gender, or due to a medical diagnosis such as Down syndrome.
     Thursday was Pence’s deadline to either sign or veto the bill.
     The governor’s signature seemingly ends a long fight for the state’s Republican lawmakers, who managed to pass a similar bill last year, but that proposal was halted in the Indiana House of Representatives.
     “I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable – the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn,” Pence said in a statement. “By enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn, while still providing an exception for the life of the mother. I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families.”
     Anti-abortion organizations publically championed the bill as providing rights to the unborn.
     “Gov. Pence has long been a champion for the unborn and their mothers,” said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “By signing the dignity for the unborn bill, Gov. Pence has again signified his commitment to protecting life. We are pleased that our state values life no matter an individual’s potential disability, gender or race. We also believe that the other measures in the bill are positive steps forward for providing dignity and compassion.”
     Opponents of the bill responded with fierce criticism to the new law, with many claiming that it is simply an attempt to ban legal abortions.
     Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders scolded the bill and Pence, using his campaign Twitter account to say, “The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana.”
     The law also levies other restrictions such as requiring doctors to provide the opportunity for pregnant women to view the ultrasound, and if possible, to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus within 18 hours of the procedure.
     To perform an abortion, the measure requires doctors to have written admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or have an agreement with another physician who has such privileges.
     Under the new law, doctors would face civil liabilities should they knowingly perform an abortion for a mother who was motivated by one of the now-banned criteria.
     Despite the strong opposition to the new law, nothing in it stops a woman from obtaining an abortion simply because they wish to, creating an odd situation regarding a woman’s right to choose.
     “Now Indiana’s legislature has passed a bill that forces women to give birth if a doctor has detected a fetal abnormality. Which, yes, would mean that a pregnant woman who contracts Zika would lose her right to abortion, while a woman with a healthy pregnancy would retain her right to say no to giving birth,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky said in a statement, according to an Indianapolis Star report.
     In addition to the abortion restrictions, the new law also prohibits the selling, receiving or acquiring of fetal tissue and makes it a felony to do so, except in cases of parental approved autopsies.
     The law is set to take effect in July, and it is believed that pro-abortion rights organizations will try to challenge the law in court.

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