With a Prayer, Indiana Governor Signs Into Law Controversial Abortion Restriction

It looks like Indiana Governor Mike Pence isn’t done ruining the reputation of his state.

After last summer’s disastrous bill allowing LGBT discrimination — which he later had to modify after a national outcry — he’s back in business, this time restricting abortions even further.

Behind closed doors, Pence signed House Enrolled Act 1337, forbidding women from obtaining abortions if they’re doing it because the fetus has a diagnosis of a disability.


“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,” Pence said in a statement.

The controversial and potentially unconstitutional measure further restricts abortion in Indiana — already one of the most restrictive states in the nation. It does so by prohibiting a woman from seeking an abortion solely because her fetus could be born with a disability such as Down syndrome. It also restricts a woman from terminating her pregnancy solely because of the gender or race of the fetus.

There’s a lot to wonder about here, least of which is the question of how Pence would ever know a woman’s reason for wanting an abortion. Even if there was a diagnosis of a disability, what if she wants to have an abortion for a different reason? What if she lies about the reason? Would that be okay? What constitutes a “disability” according to this law? What makes him think it’s his right to get between a woman and her doctor?

Because the legislation interferes with a woman’s right to privacy, and because it could prevent a woman from having an abortion even before the fetus is viable, there’s lots of room here for a court to find this unconstitutional. Already, Planned Parenthood is fighting back:

Pence fails to grasp basic facts when it comes to reproductive health. Education, coupled with access to all reproductive health services, is the most effective method of protecting Hoosiers. It is clear that the governor is more comfortable practicing medicine without a license than behaving as a responsible lawyer, as he picks and chooses which constitutional rights are appropriate,” Betty Cockrum, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood and the state’s chapter of the ACLU say they’re planning to file a legal challenge. Let’s hope they’re successful.

After seeing what’s happening in Alabama, the last thing we need is another Republican Governor who can’t stop getting in between women’s legs.

(Image via Gil C / Shutterstock.com. Thanks to Scott for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.