Indiana could ban abortion in cases of Down syndrome

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Source: The Washington Post

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is mulling a sweeping abortion bill that among other provisions would bar the procedure in cases where it is sought because of a diagnosis of a fetal disability such as Down syndrome.

The bill, which was passed by the legislature last week, would make Indiana the second state in the nation after North Dakota to ban abortion in those cases, as well as instances where the decision is based on the sex or race of the fetus. The measure also could make Indiana the first state in the country to require that all fetal remains be buried or cremated.

Pence, who is in the midst of a reelection campaign, is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk, in part because he is relying on strong turnout from social conservatives to hold on to his seat. He is staunchly opposed to abortion; while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Pence championed efforts to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the women’s health-care and abortion provider.

Pence earned the ire of his state’s business community last spring after signing a religious liberties bill that was viewed by critics as anti-gay and a stain on the state’s welcoming reputation. His detractors got fresh fodder later in the year when he pledged to block the placement of Syrian refugees in his state — an effort that was rejected by the courts.

In addition, among those who opposed the abortion bill were several Republican women in the Indiana House, who objected, among other things, to the section on fetal anomalies.

In a floor speech before the bill’s passage, Rep. Cindy Ziemke, who represents an area southeast of Indianapolis, said she was against abortion but could not support that provision because it failed to show compassion to “grieving parents who must face a decision that is heartbreaking,” she said. “It’s a sad day for me to have to vote no on a pro-life bill.”

Other women in the chamber spoke out forcefully in favor of the measure.

“In this room right here, we make laws to protect children from abuse and neglect. We make laws to protect women who have been raped,” said Rep. Rhonda Rhoads (R), whose district lies in southern Indiana. “Can we not also make a law to protect the unborn?”

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