Saturday, January 07, 2006

Woodruff's Anti-Abortion Bill Dead On Arrival?

Rep. Troy Woodruff’s bill to outlaw abortions in Indiana may be dead on arrival. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R), who is chairman of the House Public Policy and Veterans Affairs Committee to which HB 1096 has been assigned, told WFRN that “even though he agrees with the bill, he's doubtful he can schedule it for a hearing this year.”

The Vincennes Republican’s abortion bill would define human life’s beginning as “when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.” The bill makes an exception for when “the abortion is necessary to prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health of the pregnant woman.” No exceptions are made for rape or incest. The bill makes it a Class C felony to “knowingly or intentionally” perform an abortion.

Rep. Woodruff, who is serving his first term in the House after unseating an incumbent Democrat in the last election, is thought to be highly vulnerable in this election year, in part, because of his decision to change his position and support the Daylight Savings Time legislation after intensive lobbying by Gov. Daniels. WISH-TV’s Jim Shella reports that Gov. Daniels “gave [Woodruff’s] abortion bill a cold shoulder.”

Woodruff’s legislation, if enacted, would have no effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, which established the constitutional right of a woman to an abortion more than three decade ago. Opponents of abortion are hopeful that Samuel Alito, if confirmed by the Senate, will provide enough votes on the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Political observers believe Woodruff’s interest in the bill may be politically driven. The conventional wisdom is that by establishing himself as a strong opponent of abortion, he will galvanize fundamentalist Christians in his district to come out to vote in this fall’s election. If House Republicans deny him a hearing on the bill, he may not get the political mileage from introducing the bill he had hoped for.

House Republicans may be fearful that they are already being viewed by the public as too extremist on hot-button social issues and may want to put a lid on these controversial issues for this legislative session. As Jim Shella also reports, House Speaker Brian Bosma “shot down” the intelligent design bill earlier this week, which he initially touted until the proposal drew a largely negative response from the public.

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