INDIANAPOLIS — A Hoosier lawmaker hoping to permanently end abortion in Indiana could get an assist from a U.S. Supreme Court reshaped by Republican President-elect Donald Trump.
State Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Goshen, said Tuesday he plans to file a “Protection at Conception” proposal when the Republican-controlled General Assembly convenes in January.
If enacted into law, it would prohibit all abortion in Indiana in all circumstances and authorize the criminal prosecution of any doctor or woman who participates in an abortion.
“It’s time to bring the Roe v. Wade era to its logical conclusion,” Nisly said. “My goal is to deregulate abortion right out of existence in Indiana.”
The federal right to privacy, clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent related rulings, prohibits a state from unduly interfering with a woman’s decision to have an abortion prior to fetal viability, generally considered to be 20 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Nisly’s proposed legislation is unconstitutional under that standard.
But the standard could change, as Trump has promised only to appoint anti-abortion justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and said Sunday he favors allowing individual states to decide whether abortion is permitted in their borders.
“The Supreme Court has been wrong before,” Nisly said. “On issues like slavery, on segregation and a host of other issues, and they’ve reversed themselves, eventually.”
Indiana law already declares that “human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm,” and holds that abortion is a criminal act except when performed following very specific regulations that generally prohibit abortion beyond 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Nisly’s plan would delete the regulations permitting abortion and treat all life as equal from the moment of conception, meaning the death of a fetus through abortion could be prosecuted identically to the murder of a child or an adult.
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“The code is there, but Indiana has failed to use it to stop abortion. Instead, they regulate it, which causes approximately 22 Hoosier babies to die every single day,” said Amy Schlichter, Hoosiers for Life executive director.
“It is time that Indiana understands that our legislators are not doing all they can to stop abortion in our state.”
It’s not clear whether Hoosier lawmakers have the appetite to tackle another anti-abortion measure that’s all but certain to be struck down in federal courts operating below the Supreme Court.
Earlier this year, enforcement of House Enrolled Act 1337, a statute prohibiting abortion following diagnosis of a fetal disability or genetic abnormality, was halted after courts ruled it illegally limited a woman’s right to abortion.
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services, did not identify abortion restrictions as a leading priority when he was appointed Monday, and was noncommittal on how he’d handle a proposal like Nisly’s if it made it to the Senate.
“We’ll have to wait a while and see what kind of bills get filed and sent to my committee,” Charbonneau said.
A spokesman for Republican Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb did not respond to a request for comment on Nisly’s proposed abortion ban.
Though Holcomb said last month at a gubernatorial debate that while he is “pro-life,” limiting abortion is not at the top of his governing agenda.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which repeatedly has gone to court on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky to challenge new state abortion restrictions, has declared it is ready to fight throughout the Trump administration “against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.”