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Bauer remarks on Republican abortion ban final vote

News & Media, Member Featured

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) delivered the remarks below to the House of Representatives before their vote on SB 1(ss), Republicans' abortion ban bill:

I stand before this legislative body, asking you to keep the basic human rights of child bearing women and girls in place.
Leave the law as it remains today. Direct all of your focus on why we were called back to this statehouse: to provide needed economic relief to residents who are struggling to meet their basic needs while state government sits on an embarrassment of riches of THEIR tax dollars. A tax refund that, as the author stated, was best left to individuals to decide how to spend.

This is a powerful moment for women in this state. We are standing up for our rights, rights we never thought we would lose, which were once guaranteed by an interpretation of the constitution and were only stripped away due to a new interpretation of that same constitution.

You may not have thought women would show up. Maybe that they wouldn’t be paying attention to what this legislative body is doing. But people in the state of Indiana are getting involved in politics as if their lives and futures depended on it.

I have seen rallies in my community of South Bend and Mishawaka, places like Elkhart, Goshen, Osceola, LaPorte. Women & girls, brothers & husbands standing by their wives, fathers speaking up for their daughters, from every corner of this state, people are demanding their voices be heard by this legislature.

To demand equal rights UNDER THE LAW, to have the same control over her body that is granted to any man in Indiana.
A new generation of women joining arm in arm with their mother and grandmother’s generation who fought for this protection under the law so many years ago, and are still fighting. WITH US.

To remain free from government overreach.

Now, I recognize I stand before a body that refers to a citizen with a gun as “Mr. and Mrs. Lawful” but a citizen with a uterus as not to be trusted. Whose mistrust of women is revealed in the policies proposed here in SB1. Who believe that women will lie about being raped JUST. to get. an abortion.

We are told by the Republican supermajority that you cannot legislate moral behavior when it comes to issues like gun violence in America. But in a matter of two week, will legislate away a woman’s god given free will to make her own decisions — and add on MORE government mandates to regulate her behavior.

A legislature that claims to have protected girls’ sports, while at the same time, refuses to protect young girls from their rapist, an amendment introduced by Republican leadership and supported by the majority of Republican members to remove the exception for rape and incest. Turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse and misconduct that occurs in this state by the very adults young girls are told they could trust.

This body will deny the religious freedoms to our neighbor, while demanding we write the law according to your religious book.

Choosing to only recognize religious freedom when it serves your mission.

Exposing a belief that your faith is more important than anyone else’s, and thereby the law of the land.

That is un-American.

Imposing your own personal beliefs over a BELIEF in survivors exposes the inherent mistrust of women that is held in this nation, this state, and this legislature. This bias that generations have been fighting to dispel, You have now birthed rise to a new generation of women and girls who are demanding that we are seen as equal, and that work won’t stop after we adjourn this special session.

There was a time when our laws were intentionally designed to keep women as less than equal. There was a time when she couldn’t open up a bank account without a man.

She couldn’t be trusted with making decisions about her own finances.

Only 100 years ago, were women guaranteed the right to vote. Before then, women couldn’t be trusted by her government to make the right choice about who should represent her.

She didn’t have a voice or a say in how laws were created or in who ran the government.

There was a time when women were banned from holding certain jobs. Surely, government couldn’t let women work in any field of their choosing, right?

There were once laws that prohibited women from divorcing her spouse, and those varied state by state.

Some women had to wait or prove that she was physically abused by her spouse before she could divorce him. Some states banned divorce all together.

There was a time when women couldn’t be active members of the military.

There was a time when women didn’t get paid at all for their work. In Indiana today, women face one of the largest gender pay gaps in the nation. She only make 72 cents for every dollar a man makes, regardless of his qualifications.

Bills have been introduced by both House and Senate Democrats to close Indiana’s gender wage gap and I would appreciate your support on that in the future.

There was a time in this country when women couldn’t marry and keep their maiden name. If she did, her pay could have been withheld or her right to vote denied. The last state to remove this law from the books was in 1976!

A married woman couldn’t own property.

There was a time when women endured unregulated work hours. The first law required that women could not be forced to work more than 10 hours a day. Not because it was unfair, but because it interfered with her maternal duties and was seen as unsafe.

That might have been the first pregnancy accommodation law on the books. Boy, did they fight hard back then to keep that from becoming law, all the way up to the Supreme Court! Finally being upheld in 1908.

There was a time when government even thought banning women from wearing pants was a good idea.

You see, our nation’s history is relevant. It reveals some of the inequities that linger today. And helps us understand how we got here.

Our history reveals a time when women didn’t have access to or were denied accurate information on birth control. Just yesterday, Rep. Fleming’s amendment to allow pharmacists the ability to distribute the pill and patch was denied. Women in indiana still do not have the same access that women in 24 other states have.

There was a time when THIS general assembly wasn’t just 77% male but 100% male. Just take a look at some of these pictures hanging in the hallway. It may not seem strange to all of you, but it is FOR THAT reason that women did not have the same rights as those who were SITTING IN THOSE SEATS writing the law.

Women weren’t here to stand up for themselves and each other, they weren’t here to stand at this podium and demand equal rights under the law. They didn’t have a seat at the table.

And as the late Rep. Bill Crawford used to say, if you don’t have a seat at the table, you are on the menu.

But now, women CAN hold office, she can even be Vice President. I hope you tell your daughters that.

And I’m here to remind this body that the House Democrats have a majority female caucus, by just one member. We are prepared to stand up for our rights. Not just today, but every day thereafter until we are seen as equal by the state.

We’ve come a long way, as women.

As of this moment, right now. Women in Indiana still have the freedom of choice.

And I am here, asking you to not roll back the clock on Hoosier women.

The nation is watching. Women are watching. With this policy in place, we will continue to struggle to attract people to our state.

Our medical community will continue to struggle to fill desperately needed positions. Our rural counties already lack access to care, with maternity care deserts in 33 of our 92 counties, and doctors testifying that they will leave the state should a ban become law in Indiana.
Removing licensing requirements and lowering standards can not be the answer to filling job vacancies, all the while this body continues to pass policies like this that gain us national attention for the poor treatment of women and families, the LGBTQ community, and people of different faith.

Our universities will struggle to appeal to younger generations, impacting enrollment. How do we guarantee safe campuses if we deny a woman’s medical freedom while she is studying here?

It’s already happening. The laws that we pass out of this chamber create the result we see.

Now, you can get up to the pulpit all you want on Sunday morning to preach the Bible. But in here, we aren’t writing scripture. We are writing law. In here, we are lawmakers.

It is our responsibility to never stop working to ensure that our laws reflect that men and women were created equal. And that we defend and declare our universal human rights bestowed on us by virtue of being human — to freedom, equality and dignity.

Forced birth is not freedom.

Forcing government to decide women’s health care decisions but not a man’s is not equal.

Forcing a survivor of rape to give birth to her abusers child is not dignity.

Government’s role is to ensure we are providing access to quality and essential health care services, especially to the vulnerable.

Government’s role has not been, and should not start, in interfering with the patient-doctor relationship.

No law should compromise a physician’s ability to use good faith medical judgment when caring for a patient.

A law based exclusively on the personal religious views of the party in the majority, that ignores what the medical community is telling us, is down right dangerous. It will do harm.

The freedom to choose is granted, by this very body, to receive a vaccine or claim religious exemption, but that same freedom proposed by Rep. Johnson’s amendment for women’s reproductive rights was voted down yesterday. Both are healthcare, but one only impacts a woman.

The same cries demanding medical freedom and body autonomy from a vaccine have suddenly gone silent. Women want the same freedoms you have - isn’t a woman worth fighting for?

The Senate author called this bill “the most intimate of issues”. When did the republican party take up legislating individual’s most intimate of issues?

Amendments proposed by House Democrats, denied, because it would impose too much of a burden on business - unpaid bereavement leave to mourn the loss of a child, accommodations for pregnant women so they safely bring their child to full term.
Over and over again, this legislature fails to stop the rapist, and fails to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

This year, we passed a law that addresses coerced abortion, but turn a blind eye to the sexual and reproductive coersion that will continue to put young girls and women in these horrible situations.

Please, House sponsors of this bill, we have got to address this in January.

An amendment to allow pharmacists to prescribe the pill and patch to prevent unwanted pregnancies and thereby reduce the number of abortions, voted. Down. Without only one member going to the mic to explain why? To help us, the public, you constituents understand the reason.

Now, I will continue to believe that you can maintain your personal beliefs while also being a legislator.

But seeing personal beliefs getting in the way of allowing the support of survivors of rape and incest — is dangerous.

Or used as justification to roll back the rights of women and girls in this state, sending us back to the laws of 1950’s?

That is dangerous.

When you see a crowd of Hoosiers like what we have seen in the halls of the people’s house - you listen. No new law should create that kind of reaction from your constituents. It is simply proof that this is a bad bill.

This legislature still has a lot of work to do to ensure that women are even safe to give birth in the state of indiana. Based on our infant mortality rate, we have a lot of work to do to ensure children will actually live to see their first birthday.

Getting pregnant in Indiana shouldn’t be a death sentence. It is statistically more dangerous to be pregnant in Indiana than in 47 other states in America. We have women dying in childbirth and pregnancy now, before this law is passed, which is intended to restrict her access to health care that could save her life.

If you don’t understand what a woman may need during child bearing years ASK ONE!

She needs to have options to access affordable contraceptives.

She needs support both when she is trying to get pregnant and when she is trying not to get pregnant.

She need access to a hospital or OB services that doesn’t require driving to the next county over.

She needs access to prenatal care in the first trimester that provides medically accurate, information, not just an ultrasound and counseling.

She should feel comfort knowing if she ends up being the 1 in 4 pregnancies that end in miscarriage — or if pregnancy complications occur, she will be able to discuss safe and legal health care options with her doctor.

She needs to know that her government will not force her into being a mother.

Survivors of rape and incest will have more rights today than if this bill should pass.

This bill arbitrarily chooses 10 weeks before the government strips away a survivor’s decision making power.

A no vote of this this bill is a vote to allow those survivors to maintain some individual decision making power after losing a feeling of control in their lives.

A woman today can decide the number of kids she wants to have. But today, because AND ONLY BECAUSE she lives in Indiana, you want to take that decision making away. Government will tell women how many children they can have. Because, AND ONLY BECAUSE, you believe you are better fit to make that decision than her. More trustworthy.

The truth is, you are only more powerful.

Government passing policy that forces a child victim of rape to be a mother, before she can even graduate high school, or even elementary school?

!! I NEVER thought I’d see the day!!

We should, instead, be putting in place policies that incentivize healthy pregnancies and healthy children. Not putting in place a policy that forces victims of rape to give birth!

Policies that support the child, mother and family like paid family leave for new parents, which this state has repeatedly failed to do because of the burden on business.

We don’t even guarantee paid maternity leave for every mother who just gave birth!

No guarantee that you will get time off to heal, to bond, to adjust.

If you haven’t noticed, women are angry. Men who love a woman are angry. I hope you understand why. Telling them that you are more qualified to make her medical decisions insults her and demeans her.

Women in Indiana will be less protected with this law. Which tells women, should you become the victim of rape or incest, and you live in Indiana, you SHALL, enforced by the law, mandated by the state, dictated by your state government, carry your abusers child to full term and give birth to that child.

Members of the house, your definition of incest DOESN'T EVEN INCLUDE COUSIN!!

I want to be clear — I believe a man raping a child is not the work of God. It is the work of the devil. A child being raped IS NOT God’s plan.

Please think of the woman and young girls in your district.

Let her own faith guide that decision- not yours.

This bill, is so extreme, it further drives the divide that has grown so deep across our entire nation. Where the quality of life and the individual rights and freedoms granted to people differ on a state by state basis.

I urge you to lead with the public’s best interest, not with your political might of a supermajority.

We can’t keep passing laws and policies that go against the will of the majority of people with the message “if you don’t like it, get out”? Because they are leaving!

For those of you who represent one of those 33 counties without a hospital or OB services - that’s where women will be impacted the most.

It is women of color and women in rural Indiana who face higher rates of infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.

And maternal mortality is on the rise in America.

While other countries across the globe are securing those rights, achieving monumental gains, with nearly 50 countries reforming their abortion laws.

In a nation with the highest maternal mortality rate than any other developed country, The US has become 1 of only 4 nations globally to remove protections for a safe and legal abortion.

And Indiana is leading the way with the 3rd highest maternal mortality rate.

Women across the world are gaining access to a safe and legal abortion by overturning absolute bans in favor of women’s reproductive autonomy.

It wasn’t until this year that Indiana finally banned the shackling of incarcerated pregnant women, an inhumane act that was long overdue.

It was only this year that we expanded Medicaid coverage for pregnant women, proven to save lives of postpartum women.

Indiana is going to force women and girls to give birth when 50% of the state is a child care desert.

Forced birth in the only wealthy nation that does not provide paid family medical leave.

Forced birth in a nation where Black moms face higher rates of death from pregnancy and childbirth.

Forced birth where we average of one mass shooting per day.

And have no universal healthcare or universal childcare.

Help the people understand, why you listen to faith leaders to guide you on this issue of abortion, but when they testify before this body, as they did, asking us to protect our state wetlands because they believe all life is sacred and we should protect that life and their habitat —the supermajority did not listen.

When the faith community came out and testified before this body in opposition to the permitless carry, stating firmly that it should be defeated, saying “the respect for the dignity of human life and moral responsibility will be further eroded”. — The supermajority did not listen.

When faith organizations ask us to pass the long-overdue update of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program which provides state assistance to families in dire economic circumstances, which haven’t been adjusted for inflation since 1988 and maxes out monthly cash payment at $288 for a family of three — the supermajority, again did not listen.

I have bore witness to all three of these issues being turned down by the super majority in the two short years I have had the privilege of serving in this body, despite the faith community’s urging.

So you see, I have a difficulty in understanding when it is ok to choose when to defend a political position based on faith only when it is convenient or suites a party's political agenda.

Above all, I wish we heard more from public officials in this Chamber and across the hall declaring their faith - in the people they serve.
Their unwavering belief in women and girls.

and recognize her god given ability to exercise free will, and affirm that you will not infringe on her right to pursue life and Liberty.
Declare her free from government overreach.

I am grateful to the leaders who, despite their own personal religious beliefs, do not impose them on the people they serve. And those who support a woman’s right to choose not despite of their faith but BECAUSE OF IT.

Those who fear the judgment of the PEOPLE who sent you here.

I am left with little faith when pastors defend no exemption for victims of rape and incest. The same pastors who mentor our children should know that no child under the age of 16 legally consented, and no child survivor of rape should ever be forced to give birth.
You represent the survivor, too. Be her voice, too.

We should ALL want to protect child victims of sexual assault - those babies - from the adult thought they could trust.

It is now up to this body, to prove that they:

Trust women.

Believe in women.

Trust that she doesn’t need you at her hospital bedside to make this decision for her.

BELIEVE that women are also smart enough to make that decision.

I have never been more convinced that this body was not prepared to pass a piece of legislation. This bill should not move forward. It is not well intentioned, it is not well thought out.

We heard it will further harm women in the military who face more child loss and more sexual assault than the general public.

It provides more protections for the rapist than the raped.

It’s the young girls. The victim. Those who don’t have the family support or who live with their abuser who will face the greatest harm from the passage of this bill.

A vote for this bill is a vote to increase our maternal mortality in this state.

A vote to increase our infant mortality rate. More infants dying before their first birthday.

Our statistics will rise, despite the hard work that so many have put in to reduce these rates, in coordination with the medical community.

In 2020, in my county of St. Joseph, the infant mortality rate was the lowest they had seen in a decade.

We have seen our infant mortality, teen pregnancy rates decrease. Upon passage of this bill, these numbers WILL go up impacting women, children and families IMMEDIATELY.

Because this bill is not following the advice of the medical community and health officials whose life work has been dedicated to these missions. The work that is truly pro life.

You heard testimony from women reliving one of the most difficult and scaring moment of their lives, all to help better inform YOUR decision making on this issue. To pass a law that best helps and protects other victims. To help the next victim remain control of their future.

Deciding to start or grow a family should be an exciting time in a woman’s life. We should empower women. Having a baby should remain her decision.

Standing before this legislative body. Using my voice for those who cannot. Speaking for women of child bearing age who have been silenced. The women you walk past in those hallways and do not make eye contact with.

Your vote today will change the trajectory of all girls and women of child bearing age in this state, whether you chose to understand the impact of YOUR decision here today, or not.

I will be casting my “no” vote for my district and those who I represent, for the young victim who will have less protections from their rapist, than she has now.

For the mother who fought for this right years ago, and is no longer of child-bearing age, but wants her daughters to have the same freedom of choice about when and how to get pregnant. For the husband who is motivated solely by the love he has for a woman, his respect for her, and his trust in her.

To the fathers of daughters, including a few state senators in the chamber across the way. Who voted “no” for their daughters. Who understood that the power they have today is finite. Who understood their futures will NEVER be impacted by the decision made here today. But their child bearing daughter’s future will. Who voted for her to maintain the rights she has today in the state of Indiana.
I stand with the majority of Hoosiers who overwhelmingly oppose this extreme abortion ban bill and will be voting “no.” You can try to take us back to a time we have only read about in history books, but we will rise back up. I ask that you join us in the fight for OUR lives.

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