INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Mike Pence once again has thrust Indiana into the national spotlight after signing into law Thursday a controversial abortion limitation.
House Enrolled Act 1337, which takes effect July 1, requires a pregnant woman who learns her child will be born with Down syndrome, another genetic disease or physical deformities that aren't immediately lethal, to carry the pregnancy to term and give birth.
A doctor who performs an abortion knowing the woman's motivation for terminating her pregnancy is due to a diagnosis, or potential diagnosis, of a genetic fetal anomaly or disability risks losing his or her medical license and is subject to civil financial penalties under the new law.
The statute also prohibits women from obtaining an abortion due to the gender, race, color, national origin or ancestry of the fetus.
Pence said he approved the legislation, because it is "a comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life.
"Some of my most precious moments as governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome," Pence said.
"These Hoosiers never fail to inspire me with their compassion and these special children never fail to move me with their love and joy.
"I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families."
In addition to making Indiana just the second state, along with North Dakota, to prohibit abortion of a disabled or deformed fetus, the new law mandates medical facilities cremate or bury the remains of aborted or miscarried fetuses instead of disposing of them as medical waste.
Women, however, specifically are not required by the new law to name their aborted or miscarried fetus prior to burial or cremation.
Abortion doctors also must comply with numerous additional paperwork requirements under the law, including having records of their hospital admitting privileges distributed to employees at every hospital in their county and each adjacent county.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which operates a Merrillville abortion clinic, already is planning to seek a preliminary injunction to stop the law — which it describes as "pro-birth" and not "pro-life" — from taking effect.
"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," said Betty Cockrum, PPINK president and CEO.
The governor's approval of the abortion limitations comes two days before the one-year anniversary of Pence signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a private ceremony attended by leaders of conservative churches.
That law, which many saw as licensing discrimination against homosexuals, prompted worldwide boycotts of Hoosier businesses until the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved a hasty rewrite.
The abortion law is likely to produce similar outrage. It already has been described in national media reports as "garbage," "potentially dangerous," "outrageous" and "the most extreme abortion bill yet."
Even 11 anti-abortion Republican lawmakers in the Indiana House declined to support the measure on final passage.