Indiana Passes Bill to Make it Second State to Ban Abortions Based on Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 10, 2016   |   10:37AM   |   Indianapolis, IN

An Indiana bill to protect unborn babies from being aborted simply because of a disability, race or sex is on its way to Gov. Mike Pence’s desk this week.

The Indiana House gave final approval to House Bill 1337 on Wednesday in a 60-40 vote, sending it to the pro-life governor’s desk, according to The Journal Gazette. The state senate passed the bill in February.

Indiana House Bill 1337 would ban abortion doctors from knowingly aborting an unborn baby solely because of a genetic disability such as Down syndrome, the unborn baby’s race or sex. The bill also has several other abortion-related measures, including a requirement that aborted or miscarried babies’ bodies be cremated or buried and another requirement that abortionists who have hospital admitting privileges renew them annually. The burial/cremation requirement backs up a law passed in 2015 by Gov. Pence requiring that aborted babies’ bodies be disposed of in a humane way.

State Sen. Travis Holdman previously said the measure would basically make it “a criminal act” for an abortion doctor to knowingly end an unborn child’s life because of discrimination against sex, race or disability.

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Indiana state Sen. Liz Brown, who worked with Holdman on the measure, said previously that many families face pressure to abort from doctors or other health care professionals when their babies are diagnosed with an illness or disability in the womb. LifeNews has documented numerous cases of families saying the same thing.

“What we hear from doctors is — it would really be better off if you were not born,” Brown said. “If you are born, we will love you, and we think you have equal rights and should be a member of society. In fact, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act and have to make accommodations. But we don’t want to make the accommodation before you’re born, and in fact, it would really be easier if you were not born.”

On Wednesday, Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter praised the pro-life legislators for passing the bill.

“We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies,” Fichter said. “The House leadership listened to our concerns and the concerns of pro-life Hoosiers across Indiana and made it a priority to concur on this bill before tomorrow’s end of the session.

“We look forward to Governor Pence signing this bill into law and establishing a new respect for unborn human life in Indiana,” Fichter continued.

On Wednesday during the House debate, state Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne, said the bill will give the most vulnerable a chance at life.

“Ours is a policy that values life no matter who you are, where you come from or what your disability might be,” Cox said.

According to the local news report, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma made an unexpected move when he also voted in support of the bill. Bosma reportedly does not often vote on bills; however, in this case, the Republican legislator said he wants to “protect the rights of the unborn.”

However, several pro-abortion legislators spoke up against the bill, claiming that legislators should not interfere with a woman’s decision to abort.

State Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, said, “We need to quit pretending that we know what’s best for women and their health needs.”

A few Republicans who say they are pro-life also opposed the bill because they said they disagreed with how the voting process was handled, according to the report. Because of a procedural move involving a separate Senate bill with very similar language, the House did not have a committee hearing or full debate on HB 1337, the report states.

Gov. Pence, who is pro-life, is expected to sign the bill.

In 2013, North Dakota became the first state to pass a similar bill to protect unborn babies from abortions because of disabilities. A handful of states also ban abortions based solely on the baby’s sex.