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Bauer: Indiana’s abortion ban makes it clear we need a new culture of civic engagement in Indiana

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Today is a day that will stain Indiana’s history. Today, the Indiana GOP abortion ban goes into effect, which bans all abortions in our state at conception with narrow exemptions for survivors of rape and incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and threats to the health and life of the mother.

Much has already been said on the many flaws of this law and the ideology behind it. We know it will force more pregnant women and girls in Indiana to face real, life-threatening situations, resulting in permanent physical impairment and death, in a state that already has a maternal mortality crisis. We know it will further contribute to, and exacerbate, the brain drain in our state and our ability to solve the worker shortage as more Hoosiers face retirement age. As state representative, I fought this law to the bitter end.

Today, I call Hoosiers to action, that it be the day that we rebuild our state’s culture of civic engagement. 

Less focus is given to state legislative races. But our state legislature decides on issues that impact your daily life. Next year, the state legislature will be rebuilding the state’s two-year budget, which will allocate funding for public schools and public safety. State legislators decide on policy regarding who has access to firearms and healthcare. We write the policy on environmental regulations that impact water and air quality. And these state laws are usually written to tie the hands of local governments and their ability to pass any more stringent policy, regardless of the will of the people.

Due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs ruling this June, state legislatures face the potential of deciding on laws that grant you the right to marry who you love, your freedom to access legal contraception, IVF treatment, and attempt to make other family planning decisions for you. This uncertainty regarding the preservation of these widely popular rights warrants a refocus to state government. 

As the late Representative Bill Crawford used to say, “if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.” And given the far-reaching attempts to over-regulate family planning decisions on the most intimate of issues, most Hoosiers are on the menu with no seat at the table right now.

High-barrier, low-access to state government does not benefit residents, and allows unpopular policy positions to get passed and signed into law in the middle of the night, like SB1.

Our state's democracy depends on accountability to the voter. When only three of the 62 House Republicans who voted for the abortion ban have released public statements, that's not accountability.

Today, in honor of those who will have their lives irrevocably altered by this state law, check your voter registration at Make sure it's updated. You have until October 11 to register to vote in Indiana. Make a plan to vote early starting Oct. 12 or on Election Day, Nov. 8. 

I harbor great hope that we will one day repeal this law because I know how devastating its consequences will be. The first step toward that is rebuilding and renewing a culture of civic engagement in Indiana.

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