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Here's what Indiana's Republican gubernatorial candidates have to say about abortion

A sign propped up against a wall reads "Keep Abortion" with the rest of the sign obscured. The bottom third says "Legal"
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Indiana was the first state to pass new abortion restrictions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion access in 2022.

Indiana was the first state to pass new abortion restrictions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion access in 2022.

The result of the legislature’s special session was a near-total abortion ban that has eliminated all but about a dozen of the procedures per month — compared to hundreds before the ban took effect last year.

Here’s what the state’s six Republican gubernatorial candidates say about the issue:

Curtis Hill:

Hill said the question of the abortion law is settled — but argued there’s more work to do on enforcing the law.

“Recently, the Indiana Department of Health took a position that it did not have to provide the termination of pregnancy reports,” Hill said. “Now, those termination of pregnancy reports are the mechanism to ensure that the law is being followed. So making that determination provides a big gap in the responsibility of making sure that enforcement is occurring.”

With so few abortions occurring, the IDOH’s decision to release only aggregated termination of pregnancy reports was made to help protect patient privacy.

Hill rejected that.

“If there is some particular piece of information that someone would suggest makes it more readily available to identify someone, then identify what that is and we'll take it out,” Hill said.

Jamie Reitenour:

There are three exceptions in state law under which abortions are still legal: if the pregnant person’s life or serious health is at risk; if there’s a lethal fetal anomaly, up to 20 weeks post-fertilization; and in cases of rape or incest, but only up to 10 weeks.

Reitenour is the only Republican candidate who wants to do away with those exceptions, calling them a loophole.

“I'm OK with people pushing back on that because it's really not myself that they're persecuting,” Reitenour said. “It's God himself, God the Almighty.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.):

Braun said he doesn’t know of many Indiana state lawmakers who lost their seats because of the abortion ban.

“I think what they did was got on the issue, did the best in terms of what they thought represented Hoosiers,” Braun said.

Polls commissioned by Statehouse Republicans showed a large majority of Hoosiers wanted more access to abortion than the ban provides.

Braun said he also anticipates more legislation in the coming years proposing tweaks to the abortion law.

“You're going to have to be prepared to listen and learn,” Braun said. “I come from the point of view where sanctity of life is important, and I had to run on that back when I ran for Senate.”

Brad Chambers:

Chambers, who described himself as a “pro-life candidate,” said the exceptions in current law are important.

“To me that's settled law and I don't have it on my to-do list to revisit it,” Chambers said.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch:

As lieutenant governor, Crouch cast a tiebreaking vote on an amendment to the abortion ban bill. At the time, the bill required pregnant people who were victims of rape or incest to get an affidavit attesting to that fact. The amendment Crouch’s tiebreaking vote put into the bill required those affidavits to be notarized and ensure they could not remain private.

“I'm pro-life and my record is pretty clear,” Crouch said.

The affidavit provision was later removed from the bill entirely.

Crouch said what’s important is a companion bill that was passed alongside the abortion ban.

“Appropriating $45 million to support pregnant women, to support women who have given birth and to be able to support those children,” Crouch said. “We need to continue to look at supporting the woman and the whole unit as we continue to move forward on this journey.”

READ MORE: GOP candidates seek to stand out in Indiana's first competitive gubernatorial primary in 20 years

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Eric Doden:

Doden described himself as “ardently pro-life” and said the issue of abortion is not just a religious issue but a human rights one.

“And we're also going to do more,” Doden said. “This is what zero-cost adoptions are about, where we're going to make sure that for those who see adoption as an option, we want our kids to be adopted into loving families.”

Doden’s plan would create a zero-cost adoption fund, first infused with $100 million in state money and then replenished with private contributions that would be eligible for a 50 percent Indiana income tax credit.

Doden said his Indiana Main Street Initiative — aimed at revitalizing small towns — also goes toward his “pro-life” position.

“When you restore communities, you create a healthy environment for people that create stronger families,” Doden said.

Doden said he doesn’t see any changes needed to the abortion law.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.