Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Will Sign Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

ByABC News
April 29, 2011, 5:50 PM

April 29, 2011 -- As Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels mulls a presidential run in 2012, he announced plans to sign a bill making Indiana the first state to pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood, a move that could boost his standing among social conservatives.

"I supported this bill from the outset, and the recent addition of language guarding against the spending of tax dollars to support abortions creates no reason to alter my position." Daniels said in a statement. "The principle involved commands the support of an overwhelming majority of Hoosiers."

The bill would cut $3 million in federal money the state currently allocates to the women's health group. It also would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless the woman's life is significantly threatened, require women seeking abortions to be informed that life starts at conception, and require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.

But the bill also puts Indiana in a financial tight spot as it risks losing $4 million a year in federal family-planning money that would be eliminated because of the state legislation.

The governor has seven days to sign the bill, but even if he doesn't sign it, it still will become a law. If Daniels were to veto the bill, the general assembly would be forced to wait until the next legislative session to address the measure again.

Republicans in Congress attempted to ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood earlier this year but failed.

Republican state Rep. Eric Turner, who authored the Indiana bill, said Daniels' decision would make Indiana an example for the pro-life movement.

"I really had no doubt that he would sign the bill," said Turner. "This will make Indiana the most pro-life state in America."

Planned Parenthood called Gov. Daniels' decision "unconscionable and unspeakable."

"We will now suffer the consequences of lawmakers who have no regard for fact-based decision making and sound public health policy," Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood says the measure would cut off 22,000 low-income residents of Indiana from medical care.

Daniels has called on national leaders to declare a "truce" on social issues and focus on the country's financial burden, a statement that sparked discomfort among social conservatives.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in March expressing social conservatives' anger with Daniels for his "truce" statement, but Land now says the decision to defund Planned Parenthood shows the Indiana governor's commitment to social issues.

"I'm very pleased. It shows that while he's doing everything he can to improve Indiana's fiscal situation, there's no need to call a 'truce' on social issues," Land told ABC News. "He's clearly demonstrated the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time."

But NARAL Pro-Choice America said it sees this as an abandonment of that call for a truce.

"Gov. Mitch Daniels has put his presidential ambitions above thousands of Hoosier women, who, as a result of his actions, will lose access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other basic health care," Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement." "Daniels now will distinguish himself as a governor who defunded Planned Parenthood."

So next question on deck: will Daniels run in 2012?

Daniels has danced around questions regarding his presidential ambitions, but he has promised to make a decision after the close of the legislative session. He has made no official indication that he will run for president, nor has he said whether he will participate in the first Republican presidential debate, slated for next Thursday in South Carolina.

With his friend Haley Barbour dropping out of the race earlier this week, Daniels could be more open to a presidential run. Barbour's decision not to run opens the door to supporters and fundraising.