FAQ about Protection of Life HB1539
Updated: Feb 2
What is the bill about?
House Bill 1539, authored by Rep. Curt Nisly, co-authored by Rep. John Jacob, was created with the intention of abolishing abortion in the state of Indiana.
Repeals the statutes authorizing and regulating abortion. Finds that human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm. Asserts a compelling state interest in protecting human physical life from the moment that human physical life begins. Provides that court decisions to enjoin the law are void. Specifies the duty of Indiana officials to enforce the law. Specifies that federal officials attempting to enforce contrary court orders against Indiana officials enforcing the law shall be subject to arrest by Indiana law enforcement. Redefines "human being" for purposes of the criminal code to conform to the finding that human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm. Makes other conforming changes.
HB1089 does the following:
Protects life from fertilization by banning abortion. “Indiana asserts a compelling state interest in protecting human physical life from the moment that human physical life begins.”
Redefines a person. “The general assembly finds that human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.”
Provides protection for a fetus born alive (i.e. during botched abortions). “Any fetus born alive shall be treated as a person under the law…”
Repeals the statutes authorizing and regulating abortion.
Provides that court decisions to enjoin the law are void.
Redefines “human being” for the purposes of the criminal code to conform to the finding that human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm. Any person involved in the abortion would be liable for criminal charges.
Bottom line, if passed this bill would completely abolish abortion in the state of Indiana. Similar bills have been submitted 4 times prior in Indiana but have not yet made it out of committee.
Are there any concerns about this bill?
There are concerns that even if the bill was passed it would be immediately repealed because the law of Roe v. Wade takes precedence. This bill cannot withstand court challenge as long as Roe is in place.
Additionally, there is concern over the line “Repeals the statues authorizing and regulating abortion”, critics of this bill fear that if the HB1539 is passed (all abortion regulations would be removed) and then the bill is repealed but the removal of the regulations would stay in place, losing all the progress we’ve made. The bill does include a nonseverability clause which prevents current abortion laws and restrictions from being wiped away in the event this bill is passed and challenged in court. But the constitutionality and strength of protection of nonseverability clauses is up for debate.
Finally, one of the major pro-life concerns with this bill, is that it makes it possible to prosecute women for obtaining abortions. Pro-lifers consider such a move unjust and unwise given the need for more support for pregnant women, and the widespread misinformation on the true nature of abortion. Since women will likely still search out illegal abortion in the case of a ban, in the interest of protecting all human life, pro-lifers want women to be comfortable seeking medical attention in the case of a botched illegal abortion. Alabama's Human Life Protection Act contained such immunity for women for just that reason.
If I am in favor of this bill, what should I do?
The arguments for and against this bill are strong. If you are in favor of this bill, we urge you to at least contact your representative and ask him or her to support an amendment to the bill that would provide immunity to women who obtain abortions. Bills are not static. It is possible to add an amendment in committee or when the bill reaches the floor of the legislature.
Have similar bills been passed in other states?
Similar bills passed in AL, AK, GA, KY, LA, MO, MS, OH, and UT. Unfortunately, all of them have been struck down by state and federal judges.
Heartbeat bills are not as restrictive as total abortion bans, but the strategy is that if enough of these bills are past and struck down, the Supreme Court will have to hear one of these cases which provides an opportunity for overturning Roe.
Alabama- is the law most similar to HB1539. No abortion after 0 weeks. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is threatened. No exceptions for rape or incest.
The bill was passed in the state House and Senate and was signed by the governor.
On October 29, 2019, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a preliminary injunction against the abortion ban, preventing the legislation from entering into effect on November 15. Thompson wrote an opinion in which he argued, "Alabama's abortion ban contravenes clear Supreme Court precedent. It violates the right of an individual to privacy, to make choices central to personal dignity and autonomy. It diminishes the capacity of women to act in society, and to make reproductive decisions. It defies the United States Constitution."
Arkansas- No abortion after 18 weeks. Allows exceptions for rape, incest or medical emergencies.
In July 2019, Federal Judge Kristine G. Baker blocked the new abortion restriction. In January 2021, 8th U.S. Circuit of Appeals upheld the federal judge’s ruling blocking this bill.
Georgia- No abortion after 6 weeks. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is endangered, if the pregnancy is deemed "medically futile" and in cases of rape or incest if the woman files a police report. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law in May 2019.
October 2019, federal Judge Steve Jones blocked the bill. In July 2020 the block was renewed.
Iowa- Governor signed heartbeat legislation in May 2018.
State judge struck down the law January 2019.
Kentucky- No abortion after 6 weeks. No exceptions for rape or incest. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is endangered.
Federal judge stopped it from being enforced.
Louisiana- No abortion after 6 weeks. No exceptions for rape or incest. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is endangered or if the pregnancy is deemed "medically futile." Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill into law May 2019.
Blocked by federal judge. Currently in the court system.
Mississippi- No abortion after 6 weeks. No exceptions for rape or incest. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is endangered.
A federal judge on May 24, 2019 issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the law from taking effect.
Missouri- No abortion after 8 weeks. No exceptions for rape or incest. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is endangered.
A district court ruling prevents the law from being enforced and , as of Jan. 2021, is before the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals.
Ohio- No abortion after 6 weeks. No exceptions for rape or incest. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is endangered.
Blocked by a judge, and currently in the court system.
Utah- No abortion after 18 weeks. Allows exceptions for rape or incest if the doctor performing the abortion verifies that the incident was reported to law enforcement. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is endangered.
The law was blocked by a federal judge in April 2019. The state and defendants agreed to the injunction and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, a defendant in the case, said he won't enforce the law.
What should I do?
Make your voice heard! Right to Life Michiana works to protect life from conception to natural death. In support of this mission, we encourage all pro-lifers to call their state representatives and hold them accountable for defending the unborn. Share your concerns and your suggested amendments. You can see the full list of House Bills that have been submitted. You find representative contact info here.