Indiana governor says no “red lines” on possible abortion legislation

Holcomb also anxious about refund delay

By: - June 30, 2022 12:47 pm

Gov. Eric Holcomb answers questions on abortion from media Thursday at an economic development event. (Casey Smith/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana’s Republican governor said Thursday he’ll sign any abortion-restricting measures that make it to his desk during the upcoming special legislative session.

The revelation came one day after Indiana lawmakers announced they will delay the reconvening of the General Assembly until late July, however. 

That also pushes back the governor’s proposed tax refund payments, but legislators said it allows more time to craft an expected plan to further curb access to abortions.

“I don’t have any red lines right now,” Holcomb said. “It’s of paramount importance to me … that we must recognize that this issue is one of the most divisive by definition — when you look at where people fall in the nation — and that will require a thoughtful and respectful airing of where we all come from.”

Although the governor, along with Republican leadership in the House and Senate, have signaled support for new restrictions — possibly even an outright ban on abortions — they have not released details.

Mum on specifics

Holcomb did not say where he stood on specific elements of a new law, including possible exceptions to an abortion ban, or if he thought criminal penalties should be imposed on doctors who perform abortions.

He said Indiana should watch other states that already took action after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey rulings, adding that “it probably served to our benefit” that Indiana did not have a trigger law in place, as others did.

“​​It may be that we’ll learn something from others before they come back into session,” Holcomb said. “And we may be able to avoid some wrong turns or pitfalls.”

The governor’s proclamation will still start the “shot clock” on the special session on July 6. But House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said Wednesday that state lawmakers plan to return to the Statehouse for a special legislative session on July 25, instead.

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Doing so helps the General Assembly reconvene with “minimize logistical issues,” Bray and Huston said.

Lawmakers only have until Aug. 14 to codify their plans — state law allows them to use up to 40 calendar days to complete their work. 

Holcomb maintained Thursday that the legislature has “ample time” to craft the state’s response to the high court’s ruling on abortion, noting that he, along with members of his administration, will be at the General Assembly’s ready “any moment, of any day.”

Refund delayed

The governor additionally said Thursday he’s “anxious” to send tax refunds to Hoosiers to provide inflation relief. 

Acknowledging that the delayed special session could mean taxpayers won’t see refund checks for several more months, Holcomb said other legislative responses, such as paying down more debt, might be necessary.

“This is the reason why I called this special session,” Holcomb said. “I’m even more persuaded that we can give at least a billion dollars back to Hoosiers, looking at our revenue. I’m anxious to get back in the building with the understanding that we’ve got time to do both of these things.”

Holcomb announced his plan earlier this month to dip into the state’s growing budget surplus and send $225 in payments to taxpayers. Doing so requires approval from the state legislature.

Holcomb previously rejected calls from Democrats to suspend state gas taxes, saying that would be an inefficient way to help Hoosiers financially. He emphasized Thursday his goal is “to make sure that Hoosiers are directly the beneficiary” of the state’s economic growth.

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Smith has had internships and fellowships at the Investigative Program in Berkeley, California, The Indianapolis Star, the Investigative Reporting Workshop in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post, National Geographic, USA Today and other publications. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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