Indiana likely to ban abortions based on fetal disabilities

(Reuters) - Indiana is likely to become the second U.S. state to prohibit abortions based on the diagnosis of the fetus with a disability such as Down syndrome.

Republican Governor Mike Pence has until the end of the day to sign or veto the bill, which was ushered through the Republican-led legislature over the last three months. The bill still becomes law on Friday if the governor does not sign it but fails to veto it.

The legislature would need a two-thirds vote to override a veto, a threshold both chambers reached when passing the measure.

The bill would ban abortion if the expecting mother is seeking the procedure because the fetus has been diagnosed with certain disabilities. It also bans abortions based on race, gender or national origin.

In a story published by Indiana Public Media on March 14, Pence said he would give “very careful and thoughtful consideration” to the measure.

“But I do bring my belief in the sanctity of life to that, and that will inform the way that I evaluate that, ultimately,” he told Indiana Public Media.

By law, Pence has seven days to sign a bill that was sent to him on March 17 by the state Senate.

North Dakota is the only U.S. state that prohibits abortions based on fetal anomalies. Seven states ban those based on gender, and Arizona prohibits those based on race, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that tracks abortion laws.

A petition circulating on hoping to persuade the governor to veto the bill had more than 5,600 signatures as of Thursday morning.

The measure would add “shame, stigma and barriers at a time when the most critical need is medically accurate information and compassionate care,” it said.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Editing by Ben Klayman and Lisa Von Ahn