Indiana Capital Chronicle: Longtime Indiana senator leaves Republican caucus amid abortion bill debates

Key Senate Republican steps away from GOP caucus. (Courtesy Indiana Senate Democrats)
Key Senate Republican steps away from GOP caucus. (Courtesy Indiana Senate Democrats)

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to giving Hoosiers a comprehensive look inside state government, policy and elections. The site combines daily coverage with in-depth scrutiny, political awareness and insightful commentary.

Indiana Sen. Mike Young has resigned from the Republican caucus amid disagreements over the GOP approach to abortion-restricting legislation.

That’s according to a letter obtained Tuesday by the Indiana Capital Chronicle. Young, a longtime Republican lawmaker from Indianapolis, addressed the letter to Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray. It is unclear the status of Young’s committee chairmanship. He has served in the legislature since 1986.

“I am disappointed Sen. Young opted to remove himself from the caucus in such a challenging moment,” Bray told the Indiana Capital Chronicle Tuesday evening. “We need all hands on deck when dealing with challenging issues like those currently before the General Assembly.”

In the letter, dated July 22, Young starts by saying, “I have a liberated heart. Quite frankly, this decision kept me true to my principles.”

“I am informing you that I no longer will caucus with the group. Although I will no longer caucus with you I will remain a Conservative Republican. For most of us, we will, sometime in our lives, face a decision that will test our resolve, character and principles. How a person deals with those decisions tells everything about the person.” 

Young goes on to say he can’t be in a position of picking who lives and dies; he opposes the inclusion of a rape and incest exception in the proposed abortion ban. 

“The argument that we will save lives with the rape and incest language, while true, also commits certain innocent unborn babies to a death sentence …. I don’t want to be part of a decision that chooses which babies die and which babies live.”

Young said it is not only the abortion bill behind his decision. He noted being let down in a recent caucus when he was asked by leadership to prepare a paper on issues and concerns with the bill. But as he began to give the presentation most members of the leadership walked out of the room. He was told to continue.

Young mentioned a number of other issues:

  • He said after working to find a compromise on a hate crimes bill, a decision was made to send the bill to another committee that Young didn’t chair. He found out from a Democrat.
  • He was removed as chair of the summer study committee on Corrections and Criminal Law due to concerns with a leg injury. But Young said Bray never asked the condition of his leg and whether he could handle the responsibilities.
  • Young also said Bray has refused to help members with issues in their districts. He cited several Indianapolis senators with concerns about IndyGo. “We have received more help from the House of Representatives.”

Another issue that Bray allegedly refused to help on was a non-compliant prosecutor bill and one making changes in the criminal justice structure in Marion County.

Lastly, Young said Bray has been generally disrespectful – making Young wait for scheduled meetings and canceling at the last minute.

“As of this time, I will no longer participate in any further caucus meetings until such time that I feel it is appropriate to return.”

When asked directly by the Indiana Capital Chronicle Monday morning whether he had resigned, Young said, “I don’t think I’m going to talk about this. If I ask you about your family fights, would you tell me about it?” he said.

Bray only responded “no” when asked Monday by the Indiana Capital Chronicle if any lawmakers have resigned from the caucus. But late Tuesday provided a response for this story.

“I completely disagree with each of the allegations referenced in Sen. Young’s letter. The errors it contains can be refuted by looking at the movement of legislation over the last few years, however, this is a family matter that should be handled in-house between the two of us and our caucus,” Bray said in his statement Tuesday.

“As pro tem, I devote the lion’s share of my time to the Senate’s legislative priorities, but I have always endeavored to make time for individual senators and help them through the issues they may be having with their legislation and other work here at the Statehouse, and I’ll continue to do so.”

Another letter is rumored to exist with a large number of Senate Republicans opposing the proposed Senate Bill 1. The Indiana Capital Chronicle requested the document but Senate Majority Spokesperson Molly Fishell said “we do not share internal communications, to the extent that any exist.”

Indiana lawmakers for years have argued the Indiana Access to Public Records Act doesn’t apply to the legislature. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that although the General Assembly is subject to public records laws, deciding what is and isn’t exempted from the law is up to the legislature.

Contact the Indiana Capital Chronicle with comments at or on Twitter @INCapChronicle


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