Abortion access could hinge on state election results
There’s new movement afoot to make abortion widely available in Indiana, as state officials there vote on another legislative proposal. (Kiara Bowers for The Washington Post)
INDIANAPOLIS – In a few short months, Gov. Mike Pence has helped push Indiana from a so-called red state – where Republicans are in charge – to a redder sort of blue state – where Republicans control both houses of the state legislature.
He has also pushed a handful of state laws that would dramatically expand the state’s abortion services and make abortion access a key battlefield in the contentious 2020 presidential race.
Abortion is often billed as a Democratic wedge issue, but in Indiana, a Republican-voting state, it’s the only wedge.
What’s more, the debate in Indiana is shaping up as a referendum on abortion access, with two conservative bills that would make abortion widely available potentially on the state’s November ballot.
“Indiana is a great cautionary tale,” said Ann Kirkpatrick, legislative director of the Indiana Coalition for Life, an anti-abortion organization that has been pushing for abortion access in recent years, including through legislation. “This is not a state that has been very pro-life. When you have a political culture that prioritizes fiscal responsibility ahead of reproductive freedom, you have a different state than what we have.”
Pence’s decisions and decisions by his allies in the Legislature have made clear that “life in Indiana is more than a political football,” said Rep. Lisa Carter, a Republican whose district borders the state border with Kentucky.
But it’s an issue that has divided the state’s conservative factions.
“It’s an issue that brings out the worst in people,” said Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican who represents one of the state’s most conservative districts. “I would say that for every one person who is a Republican who has opposed this I would say there are four or five people who are pro-life who would disagree with me. This is just a different type of party.”
The House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority, also is divided. Four House Republicans voted for the anti-abortion bill, and two others