Indiana Becomes Second State to Ban Abortions Based on Down Syndrome

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 24, 2016   |   5:13PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Indiana has become the second state in the nation, following North Dakota, to ban abortions on babies who are diagnosed in the womb as having Down syndrome. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill today to protect unborn babies from being aborted simply because of a disability, race or sex.

Pence signed House Bill 1337, which 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.

“Throughout my public career, I have stood for the sanctity of life. HEA 1337 is a comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life, which is why I signed it into law today,” Governor Pence said in a statement.

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Pence continued: “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. HEA 1337 will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome.”

“Some of my most precious moments as Governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome. These Hoosiers never fail to inspire me with their compassion and these special children never fail to move me with their love and joy,” he continued. “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.”

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.

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.”

Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter praised Governor Pence for signing the bill.

He told “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.”

Fichter added:

HEA 1337 deals with various measures related to abortion, including putting into law Hoosiers’ longstanding values that babies shouldn’t be aborted because of disability, gender or race. In addition, it provides perinatal hospice information to parents who receive a negative prenatal diagnosis. It imposes respectful disposal methods of aborted fetal remains so that baby body parts aren’t comingled with gall bladders and treated as medical waste. It prohibits the transportation of an aborted baby into or out of Indiana except for the purpose of final disposition. It also increases informed consent for women by prohibiting group counseling before an abortion so that the woman has an opportunity to discuss the upcoming abortion procedure in private.

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.

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.

ACTION: Thank Governor Pence for signing the bill by going here.