Indiana Lawmakers Pass Bill to Fight Forced Abortions in Effort Against Human Trafficking

A billboard displays a phone number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. The FBI in Las Vegas is teaming with a billboard company to raise the profile in the fight to stop human trafficking in a state where brothels are legal in rural …
AP File Photo/John Locher

The effort to fight all of the tragic consequences of human trafficking includes protecting women from unwanted abortion and lawmakers in Indiana passed legislation on Tuesday to prevent it in the state.

On a 38-10 vote the Indiana Senate passed House Bill 1217 to prevent “coerced” abortions.

Those who argued in favor of the bill said it is a necessary layer of protection to keep women in the state from being forced to have an abortion and to catch human traffickers. Critics said it will stigmatize a procedure that ends the lives of millions of unborn children in the United States every year.

The Indianapolis Star reported on the legislation:

Under House Bill 1217 any pregnant woman seeking an abortion would have to be informed both orally and in writing that no one can coerce the pregnant woman to have an abortion. If an abortion clinic employee suspects someone is being coerced — a Level 6 felony under the bill — they clinic must report it to law enforcement, who must then investigate.

The clinic would then have to delay the abortion, and provide that woman with information about protective services available, access to an alternative exit from the facility and use of a telephone.

Bill author Rep. Joanna King, R-Middlebury, said in committee that the bill was brought to her by Indiana Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that often pushes for more restrictive abortion language in Indiana law. There are 18 states that have a coerced abortion law already on the books, Bill sponsor Sen. Liz Brown, R- Fort Wayne, said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“This offers protections,” Brown said. “These are too many women who are sex trafficked and put at risk, and we just ignore it.”

Kathleen Marrs, a local professor, testified in opposition to the bill.

“This is simply a way to put abortion restrictions into place,” Marrs said.  “It’s a way to deny women access to a safe, legal abortion.”

“Brown implied on the Senate floor just before the vote that her peers who were opposed to the legislation were hypocrites,” the Star report said.

“We have a pro-choice group in our legislature who is really concerned about a woman having a choice,” Brown said. “But apparently that choice is only valid when that choice is to have an abortion. They don’t want to protect a woman when the choice is not to have an abortion.”

House Bill 1217 will now go back to the House, which already approved the initial bill. But now the chamber must vote on whether to concur with the minor changes made to the bill by the Senate. If is is approved — as expected — the bill will advance to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk.

The Star reported that lawmakers have said they want to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on whether to uphold Mississippi’s abortion law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks gestation before introducing other bills to protect the unborn.

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