Senate Democrats worked hard this past session to pass legislation that would improve the lives of Hoosiers, especially children. From working to ensure the healthy birth of babies to eliminating gun violence in schools, Senate Democrats introduced an abundance of legislation aimed at supporting and promoting life. It’s odd, then, that the supposedly “pro-life supermajority” was instrumental in guaranteeing that none of that legislation made it into law. If the supermajority wants to call themselves pro-life, they’re going to have to do more than just attempt to strip women of their reproductive rights: they’re going to have to actually support legislation that protects, promotes and improves the lives of Hoosiers.
This past session, Senate Democrats offered legislation to provide funding for doulas — a potentially life-saving service that provides expecting mothers with the support needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Indiana has the 7th worst infant mortality rate in the nation, and the mortality rate increases dramatically for minority children. Funding doula services would directly combat this growing problem. Growing research suggests that in socially disadvantaged communities, doula-assisted mothers are less likely to have a baby with low-birth weights and less likely to experience complications during birth.
Democrats also introduced legislation for mandatory adoption subsidies which would have required the Department of Child Services (DCS) to provide subsidy funding to families who adopt special needs children. As it stands now, once a foster parent adopts a child with special needs, the amount of financial support that they receive can be reduced to almost nothing. This is problematic as the costs of caring for a child with special needs does not change once the child is adopted. By taking away that support, parents who want to adopt a child may be discouraged from doing so if they can’t care for their child without necessary financial help. Legislation that would have set a minimum amount that DCS must give to adoptive families would have helped ensure the adoption of special needs children.
Both of these pieces of legislation would have directly impacted the lives of children. By funding doulas, we could have helped more women have successful and healthy childbirths and reduced Indiana’s atrociously high infant mortality rate. Approving mandatory adoption subsidies would have guaranteed that children with special needs in DCS continue to receive the support they need, even after they’re adopted. Despite all of the good that these proposals would have done to promote life for our children, the self-described pro-life supermajority failed to approve funding for both these bills.
Senate Democrats also attempted to pass legislation that would raise the minimum wage, expand the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs, start a universal pre-k program and address rising gun violence in our schools — all pieces of legislation that directly and indirectly improve and protect the lives of Hoosiers, especially children. All of these proposals were dismissed by the supermajority — some were never even given a committee hearing (where the public could weigh in on the bills). How can anyone who is purportedly pro-life oppose legislation that only seeks to promote life?
It’s unclear how the supermajority can consider themselves pro-life while simultaneously blocking legislation specifically aimed at supporting the lives of Hoosiers, young and old. Actively depriving Hoosiers and children of the tools and resources they need to live a healthy and long life is not pro-life. It’s pro-birth.