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Alting on abortion bill: ‘Mean and cruel.’ Where local House members line up next
Senators explain votes, as reps prepare for fight in the House. Plus, Tippecanoe Co. reports first monkeypox cases. And commissioners set timeline on next Fairfield Township trustee ouster hearing.
Republican senators with districts in Tippecanoe County split on Saturday’s special session vote to add a near-total abortion ban in Indiana. And House members with Greater Lafayette districts started taking stock of Senate Bill 1 and how recognizable it will be once it gets through that chamber.
Senate Republicans found 26 votes, the bare-minimum, to clear a bill that would ban virtually all abortions in Indiana, starting at conception, other than in some narrow exceptions for rape and incest. Current Indiana law makes abortion legal through the first 20 weeks “postfertilization” or 22 weeks after the last menstrual cycle.
For coverage of the controversial vote Saturday, one week into the General Assembly’s special session, here are a few:
Indiana Capital Chronicle reporter Casey Smith: “Indiana Senate narrowly advances abortion ban to House”
Indianapolis Star reporter Arika Herron: “Indiana Senate narrowly votes to ban most abortions. Bill heads to House.”
Herron, again, with this breakdown of Saturday’s vote: “Here's how every Indiana state senator voted on SB 1, the abortion ban”
WFYI reporter Brandon Smith kept this running log of how things came together Saturday.
Here’s reaction from state lawmakers after Saturday’s vote, either explaining their vote in the Senate or what they see heading into debate in the House.
In the Indiana Senate:
Sen. Ron Alting, a Lafayette Republican in District 22: Alting was among 10 Senate Republicans who voted against Senate Bill 1. “How this bill is worded … (is) mean and cruel,” Alting said. “I have listened to my constituents, particularly women who overwhelmingly oppose this bill.” Alting called himself pro-life, but that SB1 went against common sense. Alting said the exemptions for abortions for women who were raped or victims of incest were too restrictive, with an eight-week limit for those age 16 or older and additional notarized affidavits to contend that the pregnancy was because of rape or incest. “This bill,” Alting said, “it’s an attack on all women.”
Sen. Brian Buchanan, a Lebanon Republican in District 7: Buchanan, whose district includes a large chunk of eastern Tippecanoe County and much of Lafayette, voted for SB1. He did not immediately respond to questions about his vote.
In the Indiana House:
Rep. Sharon Negele, an Attica Republican in District 13: “First I’m going to need to give it a serious read today. Being author of HB 1001 I have had my hands full,” Negele said Sunday. House Bill 1001 included Gov. Eric Holcomb’s $225 taxpayer refund, along with a host of spending and tax credits related to prenatal care, adoptions and dependents. It also includes wiping out sales tax on diapers, among other things. “Certainly there will be changes and I look forward in working with the House sponsor Rep. (Wendy) McNamara,” Negele said. “One specific change I will pursue vigorously will be access to birth control through a pharmacist. Additionally, adding the exception ‘the health of the mother.’ We are a conservative state and in the end the result will be increased restrictions. But I want to be sure that we pass legislation that will help those most affected.”
Rep. Chris Campbell, a West Lafayette Democrat in District 26: Campbell said the special session amounted to “watching human rights be ripped away” by a “bill which currently will ban 85% of abortions and make it difficult for the other 15% who risk loss of life or criminalization.” She said she’d do what she could to stop that. “Indiana already has the third highest maternal mortality rate and seventh highest infant mortality rates,” Campbell said. “The main reason includes lack of access to affordable prenatal care and postpartum care. My amendment to HB 1001 will assure access to postpartum care for Medicaid recipients for a year, without fear of losing coverage if they return to work. Improvement to affordable housing, health care and living wages for working families would greatly reduce the need for abortion in this state. This ban will not reduce abortions but will make them unsafe and criminalize women and doctors. Restrictions to healthcare access and choices will lead only to more economic disparities and hardships.” What was her prediction for a House version of the abortion restrictions? “I think the house bill is going to be more strict and assume it will go to conference committee,” Campbell said.
State Rep. Sheila Klinker, a Lafayette Democrat in District 27: Klinker said she was still going over the Senate bill. “It’s hard to say where this is going to go in the House,” Klinker said. “It’s going to be difficult, that much I know. … A lot of my constituents, they tell me, ‘Sheila, don’t vote for that.’”
Rep. Tim Brown, a Crawfordsville Republican in District 41: “Yes, I do think there will be changes,” Brown said about SB1’s prospects in the House. “A little too early for an opinion.”
Rep. Don Lehe, a Brookston Republican in District 25: Lehe, a longtime member of Tippecanoe County Right to Life, entered the special session saying he was glad to get a chance to weigh in on a post-Roe debate. Lehe is not running for re-election in 2022, and delaying the abortion restriction legislation until the 2023 session would have kept him out of the conversation and a vote on something he said he’s wanted since he joined the General Assembly two decades ago. Heading into the session, Lehe said he was in favor of a ban that included as few exemptions as possible. On Sunday, Lehe said: “I’m still reading the passed version and will decide if I think it needs changes. Then I will consider what I want the changes to be. I’ve got preferred language and will see what will give the most protection for babies. We have a long way to go.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: To find phone numbers and other contact information for your state legislators, go to http://iga.in.gov and click on “Find Your Legislator.”
3 MONKEYPOX CASES IN TIPPECANOE COUNTY, 48 ACROSS INDIANA
The first of three cases of monkeypox in Tippecanoe County, reported publicly late last week, emerged around July 20, with the next two patients coming in the week that followed, Dr. Greg Loomis, Tippecanoe County’s health officer, said.
That was about the time the World Health Organization declared a monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.
Loomis said the county expected to see cases present themselves in Greater Lafayette, at some point. He said the health department has traced people who have had close contact with the three patients, and those people are feeling well. He said the three patients were showing rashes and were being treated. Loomis said there were no pending or suspected cases in the county, as of the end of last week.
“I do not believe this has the right stuff to become a pandemic, but it does have the right stuff to become a pandemic-like panic,” Loomis said. “And that’s not what we want.”
Statewide, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 48 monkeypox cases between June 18 and July 28. According to the state, monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox.
Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal, according to the state health department. Symptoms typically include fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion about five to 21 days after exposure, with rashes coming one to three days after the fever, according to the state health department. Monkeypox typically lasts for two to four weeks, and patients are considered infectious until all scabs from the rash have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed, according to a description from the state health department.
How it’s transmitted: According to a state release, person-to-person transmission is possible either through skin-to-skin contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or contaminated items, such as bedding or clothing, or through exposure to respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.
The World Health Organization’s overview of the 2022 monkeypox outbreak indicates that patients presenting with the disease “have mainly, but not exclusively” been identified as men who have sex with men.
State officials and Loomis, with the county numbers, have not broken down cases by demographics, for privacy purposes.
“I want to make sure that the public is aware that this is not a gay disease, but it is a subsection of that population of men having sex with men,” Loomis said.
Loomis said that in the past week, the health department brought together members of the LGBTQ Center at Purdue and Pride Lafayette to talk through the health emergency and to help come up with education programs to limit the spread.
Loomis said he was confident the community could stay ahead of the problem.
“Let's go back to COVID,” Loomis said. “At the beginning of this, we didn't know what we're dealing with. We had no masks, we had no tests, we had no vaccines, and we had no antivirals. With the monkeypox virus, we know we've known about it since 1957. We have tests that we can do to determine if, in fact, it is monkeypox or not. We have vaccines that are available to us for that. And we also have oral antivirals. So, we are already months and months, if not a year and a half ahead of the game on this one.”
UP NEXT IN FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE OUSTER ATTEMPT
Tippecanoe County commissioners will wait until Aug. 15 to hold a public hearing on a proposed ouster of Fairfield Township Trustee Taletha Coles. But commissioner Tom Murtaugh said holding off, rather than putting the matter on the commissioners’ Monday, Aug. 1, agenda, likely wouldn’t slow the process laid out in a new state law.
Wednesday evening, the Fairfield Township Board voted 3-0 to start the process of removing Coles from the township office, contending that the trustee has neglected her duties.
According to a new state law that allows the ouster of township trustees, Coles will be allowed to make her case to county commissioners, then the Tippecanoe County Council, followed by a hearing in Tippecanoe Circuit Court.
Murtaugh said Thursday that commissioners had not received the township board’s resolution and wouldn’t have time to get it on the Aug. 1 agenda. He said commissioners would hold a public hearing Aug. 15, followed by a vote Sept. 6. According to a timeline from the county, the Tippecanoe County Council could hold a public hearing Sept. 13 with a vote on Oct. 11. If the council votes for the measure, it would go to Tippecanoe Circuit Court for a final ruling.
For a closer look at the township board’s action and what prompted it, here’s your link … “‘Hate that we have to do this:’ Fairfield Twp. board takes first step to boot Trustee Coles.”
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