Signs left from abortion protests at the Indiana Statehouse on July 25. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Signs left from abortion protests at the Indiana Statehouse on July 25. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Major Indiana companies that previously declined to publicly comment on a near-total abortion ban are now speaking out against the newly-enacted restrictions, saying the the move could inhibit business growth and make it harder to retain skilled workers.

One of Indiana’s largest employers and oldest companies, Eli Lilly and Company, was the first to step out, saying it will begin looking for expansion opportunities outside of the Hoosier State in the wake of new abortion restrictions.

The Indianapolis-based company remained silent while the abortion bill was debated for two weeks by Indiana lawmakers. Officials said in a statement Saturday — hours after the governor signed the measure into law — that the abortion ban could hurt the company’s ability to bring in “diverse scientific, engineering and business talent” to Indiana.

“As a global company headquartered in Indianapolis for more than 145 years, we work hard to retain and attract thousands of people who are important drivers of our state’s economy,” Lilly officials said in a statement.

“Lilly recognizes that abortion is a divisive and deeply personal issue with no clear consensus among the citizens of Indiana,” the statement continued. “Despite this lack of agreement, Indiana has opted to quickly adopt one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States.”

The new law outlaws all abortions except in the case of a fatal fetal anomaly and cases of serious health risk to the mother — up to 20 weeks post-fertilization. Rape and incest survivors can get an abortion up to 10 weeks post-fertilization.

Indiana is the first state in the nation to approve such legislation since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. The ban takes effect on Sept. 15.

A Lilly spokeswoman said the company plans to honor all current Indiana commitments. 

In May, the drug manufacturing company announced plans to invest $2.1 billion in two new manufacturing sites in Boone County. The new facilities are intended to expand the company’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic drugs, creating hundreds of new jobs in the Hoosier state.

It’s unclear if or how the new development might be affected by Lilly’s opposition to the abortion ban.

Cummins speaks out against the new law

Cummins Inc., an engine manufacturing company that employs some 10,000 people across Indiana, said the abortion restrictions could impact the company’s ability to attract and retain employees and will affect future decisions on growth.

Cummins is the largest employer in Bartholomew County, with about 8,000 employees in the Columbus area. Its global headquarters are in Columbus.

“Cummins believes that women should have the right to make reproductive healthcare decisions as a matter of gender equity, ensuring that women have the same opportunity as others to participate fully in the workforce and that our workforce is diverse,” Jon Mills, a company spokesman, said in a statement Saturday.  “This law is contrary to this goal and we oppose it.”

Mills maintained the company, headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, has “been communicating our position on this issue” to its employees and “directly with legislative leaders prior to, and during, the legislative process.”

He added that the company is “deeply concerned” about how the law could impede its ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce and the ability to ensure women have equal opportunity to fully participate in the workforce.

“For Cummins to be successful it is critical that we have a safe and welcoming workplace, and communities where we embrace our differences and enable all employees to thrive,” Mills said. “As we continue to grow our footprint with a focus on selecting communities that align with our values and business goals, this law will be considered in our decision-making process.”

Cummins officials said they will continue to provide its employees access to high quality and affordable healthcare, including reproductive health benefits, “regardless of where they live.”

White House weighs in, too

President Joe Biden’s administration has also condemned Indiana’s decision. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called it a “devastating step.”

“And, it’s another radical step by Republican legislators to take away women’s reproductive rights and freedom, and put personal health-care decisions in the hands of politicians rather than women and their doctors,” she said in a statement.

Jean-Pierre said Indiana’s ban should be “a signal to Americans across the country to make their voices heard.” The White House also called on Congress to “act immediately” to pass a law restoring the protections set under Roe.

“Until then, President Biden is committed to taking action to protect women’s reproductive rights and freedom, and access to care they are afforded under Federal law,” Jean-Pierre said.

Biden signed an executive order on July 8 that sought to protect access to abortion medication and emergency contraception. Another executive order signed by the president aims to ensure women seeking abortions can travel across state lines to access to the procedure.

Vice President Kamala Harris earlier came to the Indiana Statehouse to oppose the abortion-restricting legislation.

She argued that the government “should not be telling an individual what to do,” especially as it relates to “one of the most intimate and personal decisions a woman could make.”

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