Glimmer of hope remains for Indiana's pregnant worker accommodations bill

Politics
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Time is running out for a bill to require work accommodations for pregnant Indiana women.

The Senate approved a measure that would send this issue to a study committee. However, the governor and many others are holding on to what little hope is left.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb mentioned this bill in his State of the State Address.

His office organized testimony for the nearly three-hour committee hearing and gathered about 40 letters of support.

It passed through committee but was gutted in the Senate.

Now, supporters look to the House to bring it back.

“He looked exactly like me,” said Katie Kirkhoff, the founder of a non-profit called The Little Timmy Project. “He wasn’t breathing, so by the time we took him to Community East, it was too late.”

After her son, Timmy, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Kirkhoff started The Little Timmy Project to help bring down the number of infants and mothers dying in the state.

“I totally feel for those mothers and parents who are losing children. I feel for those families that are losing mothers," said Kirkhoff. "And this is something if we are going to be the best in the midwest with our infant and maternal mortality rates by 2024, we need to do something now.”

That 2024 goal was set by Governor Holcomb. He believes the bill to provide work accommodations for pregnant women would help get Indiana there. But Republican Senator Andy Zay didn't think it was ready.

“Some personal concerns of mine are how it’s going to effect the small business community,” said Zay.

Right now, the bill pushes the issue to a study committee, but Governor Holcomb said in a statement that he will work to persuade lawmakers to include these same accommodations that 27 other states have enacted.

"I believe women should not have to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy,” said Holcomb.

“We are worried about small employers when there’s a crisis going on in our state," said Kirkhoff. "We have women dying, we have babies dying, and those lives are more important?”

While it is still technically possible for lawmakers to restore the original proposal, it is not likely at this point.

But for this grieving mother, that’s enough hope to try.

“It’s something that’s so important to me and so important to moms and babies in our state,” said Kirkhoff.

It’s unclear whether this bill will get a hearing in the house, but we will continue following it.

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