learn from RFRA and don’t repeat those mistakes

LaKimba DeSadier, Indiana state director for Planned Parenthood, spoke as senate members heard testimony from abortion-rights advocates, anti-abortion advocates, and members of the business community during a special session of the Senate on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at the Indiana State House in Indianapolis.
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Tamara Kay and Susan L. Ostermann

In 2015, then Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and the GOP engineered one of the most grossly incompetent and unsuccessful policy debacles in the state’s history. Their ill-conceived and discriminatory Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) generated immediate outrage and backlash from the public and businesses, costing Indianapolis up to $60 million. Hoosiers’ disgust with RFRA forced Pence and Indiana state legislators to amend the bill after only 10 days, making it less harmful to the LGBTQ community.

This week history may repeat itself as legislation curtailing health care rights, specifically abortion care, was introduced in a special legislative session. If abortion restrictions pass, Indiana will become an anti-freedom, forced-birth state.

More:The fight against RFRA isn’t over. Meet its conservative opponent.

Abortion restrictions will be devastating for women’s health and well-being, as research shows. But they also threaten Indiana’s economy and business environment. Indiana already struggles to retain college-educated workers. Recruiting talent will be even more challenging in a state that undermines reproductive health and freedom.

LaKimba DeSadier, Indiana state director for Planned Parenthood, spoke as senate members heard testimony from abortion-rights advocates, anti-abortion advocates, and members of the business community during a special session of the Senate on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at the Indiana State House in Indianapolis.

Abortion restrictions negatively affect all pregnant people, as evidenced in states with trigger laws, including Texas and Ohio. Because it is nearly impossible to distinguish an abortion from a miscarriage, women are being denied the highest standards of care by physicians who fear prosecution for providing it. Intentionally vague legislation is forcing physicians to wait before delivering life-saving care while they contact lawyers, hospital administrators, even legislators, to determine how to comply. And what counts as life saving and when? Will a woman with cancer be allowed to terminate a pregnancy? How long will a woman with sepsis need to wait before being given a life-saving abortion? Pregnancy in Indiana is also going to be more dangerous because fewer physicians will be trained to perform life-saving abortions, particularly those later in pregnancy. Over 33 Indiana counties currently have no hospital or those that provide no OB-GYN services. Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is already the third highest in the US Adding abortion restrictions will make Indiana that much more dangerous for pregnant people.

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