INDIANAPOLIS – We’re learning more about the financial impact Indiana’s near-total abortion ban would have if it goes back into effect.
The law remains on hold after a judge granted a preliminary injunction last month.
A newly-obtained report from the nonpartisan State Budget Agency reveals the state government could face nearly $60 million more in costs over the next three years. That’s separate from the social services funding approved during the special session.
During the two-week special session this past summer, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they anticipated additional costs to the state following the passage of a near-total ban on abortion.
They approved roughly $75 million dollars in social services funding as a starting point, but a fiscal analysis from the State Budget Agency, which was finalized in mid-September, predicts more funding would need to come out of the state’s general fund.
This previously undisclosed document, which we obtained through a public records request, estimates the cost to the state attorney general’s office to defend the abortion ban adds up to $2.75 million over the next three fiscal years.
And with potentially more Hoosiers being born, the State Budget Agency projects a roughly $55.8 million increase in that same time frame for healthcare coverage costs under Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP).
State Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) accused Republicans who pushed for the abortion law of not being forthcoming about the potential financial impact.
“We just needed more transparency,” Porter said. “It should have gone to [the House] Ways and Means [committee] and deliberately discussed what the impact was going to be. And we did not do that.”
Porter was particularly critical of the costs the state could face defending the law in court. He argues it’s funding that could be used elsewhere.
“We’re dealing with teacher pay, we’re dealing with infant mortality,” Porter said.
But State Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) argues those additional costs would be funds well-spent.
“I’m happy to fund more moms and babies through our HIP and CHIP programs,” Brown said.
Brown pointed out nearly $60 million would be a very small part of the state’s budget across three years.
The estimates aren’t a surprise to her, she added, but she believes they could be too high.
The state has the funding to cover these costs and additional social services that will be needed, Brown said.
“We are making sure that when we say that we’re pro-life, we are pro-life from the beginning, and we’re going to fund these programs and these programs are successful,” Brown said.
Attorney General Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) said in a statement, in part, “The fiscal impact anticipated to defend SEA1 is consistent with the past decade to defend abortion-related legal challenges. As your Attorney General, I will never back down from defending the rights of our unborn.”
House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) also declined to provide an interview Tuesday but sent a statement that reads: “We made it clear during the special session that our substantial funding increases would be a down payment toward increasing much-needed support for Hoosier moms and babies. As we head into the budget session, we’ll continue evaluating our needs and make sure we do what’s right by Indiana’s families.”
Indiana lawmakers work on a new state budget every two years. They’ll begin considering the next budget during the new legislative session in January.