Where General Assembly candidates stand on Indiana's abortion bills
They’ll be on your ballots in November. What would they have done with Indiana’s abortion bills after Roe v. Wade was overturned?
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As the General Assembly wrangles over the details of Indiana abortion restrictions during a post-Roe special session, how would have candidates for seats in the Greater Lafayette delegation handled things?
This went out to candidates for one of the seven House or Senate seats in districts that include parts of Tippecanoe County:
With Senate Bill 1 and its abortion restrictions making it through the Senate and being debated in the Indiana House, is it a bill you would have voted for, as presented in the Senate? Did the bill go too far? Did it not go far enough? What changes would you advocate for in the bill as it heads through the House and likely toward a conference committee?
Here’s what they said.
Indiana Senate District 23
The seat includes parts of Tippecanoe, Vermillion, Parke, Fountain, Warren and Montgomery counties. It essentially became an open seat, after state Sen. Phil Boots, a Crawfordsville Republican, was drawn out of the district and has since announced he plans to retire at the end of this term.
Spencer Deery, a West Lafayette Republican and a members of Mitch Daniels’ staff at Purdue: “I believe our government, private and charitable sectors have a moral duty to defend the innocent, provide support for women and babies in difficult situations, and to address the root causes of abortion. If I were a state senator, I would be working to set Indiana on that path while recognizing that this is an emotional, divisive and complicated issue that requires tact and compassion. I do not believe SB1 is yet where it needs to be, but it changes daily so I will reserve judgment until I see where the bill lands, and I have a chance to consult voters and policy experts on the expected implications and possible unintended consequences of the final bill.”
David Sanders, a Democrat, is a Purdue biology professor and a West Lafayette City Council member: “I have a well-established record for defending personal privacy against government intrusion. I am also a well-known advocate for full access to health care and women's rights. I would have opposed SB1.
“I hope it is not inappropriate to remind you of this quotation from the Tippecanoe GOP debate: ‘I oppose abortion in every way” – Spencer Deery, March 28, Duncan Hall, Lafayette.”
Indiana House District 26
The West Lafayette-centered district includes parts of the western sections of Tippecanoe County.
Fred Duttlinger, a West Lafayette Republican, is assistant director for civics literacy at Purdue: “I am not for removing all the guard rails and allowing for the overreaching abortion policy proposed by my opponent. I will fight to protect both the unborn and women. I would support life and health of the mother and will be an advocate for women who are in a terrible position through no fault of their own. The decision to bare the child of their assailant should not belong to the government. I do not support SB1 in its current form. Common sense should prevail in all areas. We do not have to irreparably harm women in order to save the unborn.”
Chris Campbell, a West Lafayette Democrat, is the incumbent, running for her third two-year term. She has pushed back on changes to Indiana’s abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. After SB1 advanced from the Senate, 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. … This ban will not reduce abortions but will make them unsafe and criminalize women and doctors. Restrictions to health care access and choices will lead only to more economic disparities and hardships.”
Indiana House District 27
The Lafayette-based district has been represented by Democrat Sheila Klinker since she first won the seat in 1982.
Jim Hass, a Lafayette Republican and a retired trucker: Hass did not respond to the questions.
Klinker, when SB1 moved from the Senate to the House, said this about honing the bill: “It’s going to be difficult, that much I know. … A lot of my constituents, they tell me, ‘Sheila, don’t vote for that.’”
Indiana House District 41
House District 41 includes the eastern part of Tippecanoe County, along with parts of Clinton, Montgomery and Boone counties. The district has no incumbent with the retirement of state Rep. Tim Brown.
Mark Genda, a Frankfort Republican and owner of Genda Funeral Home in Frankfort: “As a candidate of a newly formed district, I’m working to understand the foundation and values that shape the people of District 41. At the start of my campaign, my intention was to be the voice of those very people. That will not waver. In an effort to understand how to address the hard-hitting issues such as Senate Bill 1, I’m initiating what I’m calling ‘Genda Gatherings.’ These will be opportunities for me to go into the communities that I would be honored to represent if elected and be able to directly hear the concerns, feelings, and joys that affect the individuals of District 41. To join me in these discussions, be sure to visit my Facebook page to see the dates and locations of these gatherings.
“Political issues are not always easy but I will always cast the vote that District 41 wants me to cast.”
Greg Woods, a Democrat and a procurement specialist from Lebanon: “Where to start. You asked if SB1 was a bill I would have supported. Absolutely not. I feel abortion is health care and is a decision between a woman and her doctor only. This bill in a phrase is a death sentence to hundreds if not thousands of women and girls in Indiana. Girls too young to drive. Girls too young to even babysit their own infant siblings. Plus, let’s force a rape victim to recount that horror in front of strangers to get a document notarized. Total insanity.
“But wait, let’s add that local cities’ and towns’ prosecutors cannot decide for themselves if they will prosecute doctors saving women’s lives and give it to someone like (attorney general) Todd Rokita who has proven over and over again the only thing he cares about is Todd Rokita and his next sound bite.
“As for the changes, the House has taken this bill and like a sibling trashing another sibling’s favorite toy has gutted the bill and removed some of the crazy from it. But let me be very clear, no bill this viral majority will come up with will ever be good enough for the majority of people in Indiana or for me. The people of Indiana who have said in an overwhelming majority are against restricting abortion in any form.
“As we have seen just today from Kansas, the decision needs to be made by the people and the only way to do that is to clear out the viral majority and return some semblance of sanity back into our state and statehouse so that it represents all the people.”
In campaigns that are unopposed, here’s where incumbents stand:
Senate District 22: Ron Alting, a Lafayette Republican, was among 10 Senate Republicans who voted against SB1, calling it “mean and cruel.”
House District 13: Sharon Negele, an Attica Republican, voted to move an amended version of SB1 from a House committee earlier this week, before the full House debated the bill Thursday. Before the debate began in the House, Negele said she wanted to see changes, including adding an exception to the proposed abortion ban to cover cases when the health of the mother was in danger. “We are a conservative state and in the end the result will be increased restrictions,” Negele said. “But I want to be sure that we pass legislation that will help those most affected.”
House District 38: Heath VanNatter, a Kokomo Republican, will represent a section of northeast Tippecanoe County under newly drawn districts. He’ll be on some Tippecanoe County ballots in November 2022. On Thursday, he voted for an amendment that would have removed exceptions for rape and incest. That amendment failed in the House, as a similar one did a week earlier in the Senate.
FOR MORE: Who will on your ballot? Are you registered to vote? If not, how can you register to vote? That and more, available at Indiana’s voter portal, Indianavoters.in.gov.
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.”
ON THE SPECIAL SESSION: READS FROM THE STATEHOUSE
The Indiana House sorted through dozens of proposed amendments to Senate Bill 1, a measure that would ban nearly all abortions, starting at conception, except in some cases of rape and incest. Debating on the full House floor, representatives rejected efforts to remove all exceptions in the bill in a move similar to one in the Senate.
The House is expected to vote on SB1 Friday. What the Senate will do with a changed bill isn’t clear.
Here’s some of the reporting from the Statehouse Thursday.
From The Associated Press’ Arleigh Rodgers and Tom Davies: “A deeply divided Indiana House voted Thursday to keep exceptions in cases of rape or incest in a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in the state. The Republican-dominated House voted 61-39 to defeat an amendment that would have removed those exceptions, with a majority of GOP members wanting their removal.” For the full story, here’s your link.
Indiana Capital Chronicle reporter Casey Smith wrote this, on why a ballot question about abortion restrictions in Kansas isn’t an option in Indiana: “Kansans got to decide on abortion. What does it mean for Hoosiers? The question is whether Indiana’s General Assembly will shift gears after unexpected vote.”
Indianapolis Star columnist James Briggs took a crack at a similar story about the bellwether Kansas results: “Banning abortion would push Indiana to society’s fringe.”
In other special session matters, WIBC reporter Eric Berman had look at a revamped house version of taxpayer refunds: “Legislators reach $200 rebate deal; vote expected Friday.”
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