Indiana governor faces deadline to act on abortion measure

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Republican Gov. Mike Pence is facing a deadline Thursday to take action on a measure that would make Indiana the second state to ban abortions because of fetal genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome.

Pence reiterated his anti-abortion stance when he spoke about the measure Wednesday, but he said he was considering arguments on both sides of the contentious bill.

"I've long stood for the sanctity of life and I bring that value to this consideration," Pence said. "But we're listening respectfully to both sides and giving careful consideration to this legislation that's put on our desk."

Thursday is the deadline for him to act on bills that the General Assembly approved during this year's legislative session. Pence could allow the bill to go into law by not signing it, but it would take a veto to halt the measure.

The measure also would prohibit abortions done because of a fetus's race, sex or ancestry and would mandate that the only way to dispose of an aborted fetus is through burial or cremation.

The bill has drawn backlash from a national group of gynecologists and several female Republican members of the GOP-dominated Indiana Legislature who say it goes too far in telling women what they can and can't do.

It is unclear what impact, if any, the restrictions would actually have on abortions, as women could cite other reasons for seeking an abortion. Under the measure, doctors who perform forbidden abortions could be sued for wrongful death or face discipline from the state medical licensing board. Women receiving such abortions wouldn't face punishment.

Critics say the measure would require pregnant women to endure complicated pregnancies that pose a danger to their health and would lead women to not speak candidly with their doctors.

North Dakota adopted similar restrictions under a 2013 law approved by that state's Republican-led Legislature.