Business leaders in Indiana once again came out against a socially conservative piece of legislation, this time going after Senate Bill 1, which bans all abortions except for babies conceived in rape or incest through the first 10 weeks and for babies with “lethal fetal anomal[ies]” through the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
It wasn’t a perfect bill, but it will shut down all independent abortion facilities not connected with a hospital and will eliminate an estimated 95 percent of abortions in the state, according to Indiana Right to Life. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed it into law earlier this month and it will go into effect on Sept. 15.
Corporate leaders were swift to criticize the bill, claiming it will hurt Indiana’s ability to recruit businesses and retain quality workers. But is there any truth to that? If there is, corporate leaders will not share that information with me.
“Right now, we’re not available to participate in any additional interviews” about SB 1, Indy Chamber of Commerce media representative Casey Cawthon wrote in an email. Cawthon deferred to the chamber’s statement on the legislation:
“How will Indiana improve its poor infant and maternal health outcomes, particularly for women of color and women from low-income households? … How will Indiana retain and attract talent to grow its economy in today’s global labor marketplace?”
The chamber statement called the legislation “detrimental” and “reckless,” citing concerns about the state’s tourism and economic outlook. The chamber declined to provide any supporting evidence when asked about how the bill would actually affect these areas of concern.
I asked for any peer-reviewed academic studies that show that socially liberal states outperform socially conservative ones and if the chamber planned to support pro-abortion Democrats even if they supported laws that were not friendly to businesses. The chamber did not provide a response.
Since the chamber expressed concern for “poor infant and maternal health outcomes, particularly for women of color and women from low-income households,” surely it could point to forums or papers it had commissioned to investigate this problem.
But the chamber had no answer when asked about some of the specific policy ideas it had advocated for in this regard, and how specifically a law against abortion would affect those efforts.
Drug company Eli Lilly declined to elaborate further on its claim that the law “will hinder Lilly’s — and Indiana’s — ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world.”
“At this time, we have decided to let our previously released statement serve as our external comment on Indiana’s new law,” spokeswoman Molly McCully wrote. I asked for data on Lilly’s claims, including specifically how many people it had interviewed that said if Indiana passes an anti-abortion law they will not work there and how many current employees have specifically said they would quit and move if the state bans abortions in some form.
The company did not have any peer-reviewed studies that show that passing pro-life laws makes it more difficult to attract people to work in a state to share either. It remained silent on the question of if it believed voters had made a mistake in electing pro-life politicians and if it would support fiscally and socially liberal Democrats.
Manufacturer Cummins did not acknowledge the same press questions when asked on Tuesday after a statement said that it too was “deeply concerned about how this law impacts our people and impedes our ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce in Indiana.”
Even if these companies or the Indy Chamber of Commerce had peer-reviewed studies showing that pro-life or other socially conservative laws hurt a state’s economy, their political positions would only show that the businesses prioritize their bottom lines over the lives of unborn children.
Business is booming in the Hoosier State, which CNBC ranked as No. 1 for infrastructure and No. 2 for the cost of doing business. Northwest Indiana, which borders Illinois, has attracted new medical facilities from leaders such as the Rush University System for Health and University of Chicago Medicine.
Woke capital knows that it must make bold statements about how it supports abortion and how it supports a “diverse” workforce. Still, when it comes time to count the dollars, it is not going to suddenly flee to high tax places such as California or Illinois. Indiana has long been known as a socially conservative state but continues to attract economic investment, even just recently from Rolls-Royce.
Corporations should take a lead from the Indiana Chamber, which saw it wise not to bite the hand that feeds it. That lobbying group noted that it does not need to take positions on every social issue, particularly those that do not affect its members. It only opposed portions of the law that would add new costs or restrictions directly on businesses.
“Undoubtedly, there will be some companies and workers that view Indiana less favorably…” Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said in a statement, according to WLFI. “But at the same time, there will be others that look at it differently and see Indiana as representing their values.”
Woke businesses should remember that conservatives also have college degrees and skills, and they move to places partially based on whether the state has the same cultural values they do, not just to save a dollar on taxes.