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‘We will win this issue eventually’: Jackson on last week’s abortion ban enactment

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INDIANAPOLIS - Senate Bill 1 (ss) was signed into law by Gov. Holcomb late Friday night (Aug. 5, 2022). What follows is an op-ed by State Rep. Carolyn B. Jackson on the new law and its potential implications:

I shed tears Friday in the House of Representatives chamber as House Democrats made our final effort to stop Indiana Republicans’ extremist and unpopular abortion ban. The ban’s passage and late-night signing by Gov. Eric Holcomb marks a true low point in our state’s history.

I wept for the Hoosier women who have been told by this law that their primary purpose in life is to reproduce and who have now been put in danger. The life and health of the mother exemptions in this law are unclear and strict. The message to Hoosier women? Your personhood, your life, is less valuable than your reproductive organs.

This new law, which goes into effect September 15, effectively shuts down Indiana’s abortion clinics and bans the procedure except in limited cases. Victims of rape and incest can access the procedure until 10 weeks postfertilization, and in cases of a lethal fetal anomaly, an abortion can be accessed until 20 weeks postfertilization. The ban also includes exceptions in cases of threat to the life and health of the mother. Regardless of these exceptions, this ban is way too extreme for the majority of Hoosiers and I strongly opposed it. I want women to have all the options available to them – and this new law takes options away from them. 

Women – especially Black women and low-income women – will die because of this bill. We’ve already started hearing from the state’s biggest employers, like Eli Lilly and Cummins, that this new law will hurt their long-term prospects in Indiana. I’ve fought in my tenure at the legislature to reduce the drinking water contamination that hurts our kids. I’ve fought to grant women equal pay and workplace pregnancy accommodations. These are all issues that should be pro-life but have been rejected by the supermajority. 

This special session, my Democratic colleagues and I offered dozens of amendments to increase state support for mothers and families and take the question of abortion access as a non-binding public question to the voters on November’s ballot. Republicans said no to nearly all of these ideas. They even said no to allowing pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control and patches, which is legal in over 20 states and a proven way to reduce unplanned pregnancies and thus abortions in our state.

I know that we will win this issue eventually. Why? Because Republicans even know it’s too extreme for Hoosiers. They conducted a poll that has not been released to the public – but the word is that it showed overwhelming support from Hoosiers for abortion access. They have not been gloating publicly about the passage of this law, because it’s cruel, mean-spirited and, most of all, unpopular.

Finally, I want to remind District 1 constituents that the abortion ban does not go into effect until September 15. The law places no limitations on traveling out-of-state for an abortion, so you can travel to Illinois if you need to access an abortion. The city of Chicago has also offered this linked resource page if you have questions about your options.

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