Hundreds 'March for Life' as Indiana lawmakers hold off on major abortion legislation

Hundreds of Hoosiers bundled up to gather outside of the Indiana Statehouse on Monday for the annual "March for Life" to show their opposition to abortion, as Indiana lawmakers inside the building hold off on major abortion-restricting legislation.  

Anti-abortion advocates and some lawmakers are instead pushing for a special session, which would cost taxpayer money, once the United States Supreme Court rules on a controversial Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. The court decision could threaten key components of the longstanding Roe v. Wade decision.

"We will ban abortion," Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, told those in attendance after they had marched around the downtown area, "and we will make sure those women know that we are empowering them and giving them a choice, the right choice, to bring light."

At least four abortion-related bills were filed this legislative session, including House Bill 1282 from Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, which would outright ban abortions, and Senate Bill 309 from Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, which would require the General Assembly to meet if the Supreme Court allows the state to further restrict abortions. 

Neither of those bills appear poised to receive a committee hearing this legislative session, as the deadlines approach this week. Meanwhile a Supreme Court decision isn't expected for months.

Still, advocates for abortion rights are worried.

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"The Roe decision is in peril and we know Indiana lawmakers will be back the minute they have a chance to ban abortion entirely,"  said Jennifer M. Allen, CEO for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. "Make no mistake, we are at a crisis point, and this is the moment for every elected leader who cares about health care, and all of us individually, to stand up, speak out, and fight back.” 

Legislative leaders told reporters they want to wait until the Supreme Court decides whether to uphold Mississippi's controversial abortion language, a court decision that abortion rights groups warn could have a consequential impact on abortion access across the country.

"I think we're better served to see what happens and react to to the known than to speculate on the unknown," House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said he'd support calling for a special session, depending on the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling. Gov. Eric Holcomb would have to call lawmakers back into session.