Breaux & Yoder Op-ed: Abortion ban won’t make Republicans “pro-life”

Published On: July 12th, 2022Categories: Caucus, Jean Breaux, Shelli Yoder

As we head into special session, our Republican colleagues must face a fundamental truth: Regardless of any abortion restrictions they force onto unwilling and wary Hoosiers, they are not a pro-life party.

Look no further than your state budget for confirmation. Indiana is sitting on a record surplus as Hoosiers struggle to stay afloat due to inflation and an underfunded support network. More than 1 in 3 Hoosier households are unable to afford the basics of housing, food, health care and child care. Only 42% of working Hoosiers have jobs that pay enough for them to support themselves and their families. 12.4% of our population doesn’t know when their next meal will be. 300,000 Hoosier children go to bed hungry at night. Yet, last session, the Republican supermajority took food from actual babies by cruelly (and unnecessarily) ending federally funded food benefits early.

It didn’t stop there. Republicans killed bills to study the affordability of childcare despite Indiana being the 3rd most expensive state in the nation. They banned cities’ efforts to make housing for families more accessible even though Indiana only has 38 affordable and available homes to rent for every 100 extremely low income households. They continued a years-long crusade to undermine teachers, librarians and public education even as we experience a massive teacher shortage.

This is not a party that has prioritized the general well-being of its people, or its children. This is not a party that has prepared Indiana to care for unexpected babies and unprepared mothers.

Complete bans on abortions are publicly supported by Republican leaders like Attorney General Todd Rokita—if implemented nationwide, they would lead to a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths overall, and a 33% increase among Black women. This does not include the deaths resulting from attempted abortions in potentially dangerous, unlicensed facilities. Indiana already ranks 9th in infant mortality rates and 3rd in the country for maternal mortality. Lack of abortion access in a state with abysmal maternity care will kill women.

In July, the Republican supermajority will convene and pass sweeping restrictions against the will of 72% of Hoosiers whom believe women should have access to all forms of reproductive healthcare, abortion included. Whatever restrictions the supermajority levels, they’re surely keenly aware of the foregone conclusion: women will die. They will die on the operating table, in their homes and in the delivery room. They will die from complications and circumstances that were 100% preventable.

There is no room to feign ignorance here: history has shown what the outcome will be. The Republican supermajority has simply decided these women’s lives are a fair price to pay, as are the families many will leave behind.

It’s not just women who will suffer—every Indiana resident will feel the effects of this thoughtless and invasive policy. Healthcare providers, already exhausted from years of Republicans’ COVID misinformation and anti-vaccination policies, will move as they are threatened with criminal charges for doing their jobs. This will only worsen the shortage of hospitals, OBGYNs and healthcare workers we already face. Hoosiers, especially women, will endure longer waiting periods and perhaps higher costs to gain access to health care, both basic and critical. Expectant mothers who desperately want to carry complex pregnancies to term will face worse odds with less access to specialized OBGYN care. Restricting abortion will only damage the families we already have.

This is not a supermajority that prioritizes its people—especially not women and children. This supermajority believes that its business is your bedroom and your body: it couldn’t care less about trite things like finding Hoosiers food, housing or childcare.

Republicans need to refocus their efforts. Instead of trying to legislate a private and nuanced decision that they could never understand, maybe they should look at what is within their purview. Perhaps if they really wanted to protect lives, they could make it a priority to make Indiana livable. Erase healthcare barriers, create good jobs, end child hunger and lessen Hoosiers’ everyday financial burdens.

Simply put: If Republicans want “pro-life” to ring as more than a hollow political cry, they must start fighting in earnest for their citizens’ livelihoods, liberty and wellbeing after birth.

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