Indiana became the second state in the country Friday to ban abortions because of a fetal abnormality, such as Down syndrome. The new law also prohibits abortions based on the sex or race of the baby.
The measure passed easily in the Republican majority state legislature before reaching Governor Mike Pence’s desk.
Pence said of HEA 1337 in a statement:
“I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn. HEA 1337 will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome.”
He later added, “By enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn, while still providing an exception for the life of the mother. I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families.”
North Dakota, in 2013, was the first state to pass such a law. However, according to NPR, abortion providers claim it is difficult to enforce. The effectiveness of the measure depends on whether a woman openly states that one of the listed factors is the reason she wants an abortion.
The law also holds physicians legally liable for performing abortions for the reasons listed in the bill and restricts fetal tissue donation and mandates doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital or have an agreement with a doctor who does, The New York Times reports.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky criticized the bill, saying, “It is clear the governor is more comfortable practicing medicine without a license than behaving a responsible lawyer, as he picks and chooses which constitutional rights are appropriate,” a PP spokeswoman said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Indiana Right to Life, however, is pleased with the legislation saying in a statement,
“Gov. Pence has long been a champion for the unborn and their mothers,” said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “By signing the dignity for the unborn bill, Gov. Pence has again signified his commitment to protecting life. We are pleased that our state values life no matter an individual’s potential disability, gender or race. We also believe that the other measures in the bill are positive steps forward for providing dignity and compassion.”