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Indiana bans abortions based on race, gender, physical disability

Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law Friday.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   March 25, 2016 at 1:28 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS , March 25 (UPI) -- A new Indiana law makes the state the second to prohibit abortions on the basis of race, gender or disability.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law Thursday after it passed both GOP-dominated legislative chambers by large majorities.

The law will hold doctors liable for abortions performed solely because of a mother's objection to the race, gender or genetic anomaly, leading to a disability, of the fetus; it restricts fetal tissue donation, demanding that aborted or miscarried fetuses be interred or cremated, and obligates the doctor performing the abortion to have hospital admitting privileges or to have an agreement with a doctor possessing those privileges.

The restrictions are in addition to a number of restrictions that have already been placed on legal abortions in the state.

Pence is a pro-life conservative who previously served as a member of Congress representing Indiana's 6th congressional district. He was elected governor in 2012, and is up for re-election this year, running for a second term.

Abortions in Indiana have declined 20 percent in the past five years.

At the signing ceremony, Pence called the law a "comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life."

A year ago he signed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a religious objections bill that some groups charged was anti-gay. After a number of corporations threatened to stop doing business in Indiana, Pence signed an addendum specifying that the law does not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation.

It remains to be seen how the new abortion law will work in practice. A woman must explicitly state her reason for seeking an abortion, and several pro-life Republican legislators spoke out against the legislation, saying the restrictions are excessive, intrusive or improperly vetted.

"This legislation is being watched very closely by a wide variety of constituencies, not just in Indiana, but across the country," said Patti Stauffer, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky vice president for public policy. "It really does stigmatize and marginalize women who may be considering an abortion. It's shaming and judging."

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