CARMEL – As a young boy I spent quite a bit of time on my Uncle Charlie’s farm. Uncle Charlie had a continuing problem with raccoons. The raccoons would get in his corn storage bin and eat ears of corn. Uncle Charlie’s attempt at a solution was to purchase a dog, a fine young boxer. This boxer, named Tiny, was huge, lightning quick and aggressive.  

Charlie just knew that before long that Tiny would do his job and start tallying up some kills. Tiny seemed to be a very willing participant in this scheme. The mere smell or sight of a raccoon would drive him into a howling and barking fit, straining at the leash to get at his prey. Despite Uncle Charlie’s best plans and Tiny’s willing good intentions, several years went by before an opportunity would present itself for the dog to earn his keep.

One day, out of the blue, Tiny happened to stumble upon a raccoon inside the corn bin. Tiny positioned himself at the door of the bin and blocked any escape by the hapless raccoon. Tiny tensed up and began to growl and bark at the frightened raccoon, gradually inching nearer and seemingly ready for mortal combat. I had heard the commotion and came running, hoping to see Tiny in action. It looked like the raccoon’s time was running out when something strange occurred.

That old raccoon raised up on his hind legs and began to hiss and howl and make a generally terrible noise that told Tiny that he might emerge from the corn bin a winner, but that he was going to get bloodied in the process. It wasn’t long before Tiny got tired of barking and growling and decided that this just wasn’t the day to get clawed and bitten. He hung his head and slinked back up to the farmhouse, letting the raccoon go on its merry way. Later, when I told Uncle Charlie about the encounter, his only comment was, “I guess I’ll have to change his name from Tiny to Ole Yeller.”  

Thus ended the great quest to end the biggest problem that Uncle Charlie thought he had.

Republicans in the Indiana State Legislature face much the same problem as they debate the great issue of the day, abortion and what to do about it now that the United States Supreme Court has rightly returned the ultimate decision to the various state legislatures and assemblies.

Republicans have been barking and growling for so long about this issue that one would have anticipated that unanimous agreement among the Indiana Republican-dominated Senate and the Republican-dominated House of Representatives would have put an end to abortion and adjourned on the first day of the special legislative session called by Gov. Eric Holcomb. However, as my Uncle Charlie’s dog discovered, there are few meaningful issues that offer easy solutions and easy agreement. By now it is painfully obvious to the Republicans that if they are to make any significant changes to the legality of abortion in Indiana, someone is going to get clawed and bitten in the process.

Republicans have come to expect that they will be loathed and despised by Democrats and their friends in the liberal media when it comes to the issue of abortion. They have embraced it, locked arms and stood back to back in their battles with pro-choice activists and allies over the years. What is clearly dawning on Indiana Republicans at the Statehouse is that there is a widely differing variety of opinions amongst the Republican Party on the issue of abortion. The views of Republicans vary from a small minority opinion of pro-choice to abortion with limitations and total prohibition.  

Republicans have not been bashful about letting their senators and representatives know where they stand and, as aroused constituents, their individual lobbying can be intense. It’s one thing to be verbally assaulted by your political enemies but quite another to get verbally beaten by your friends, friends that write checks.

We’ve now come to the point where we have a very sticky wicket. Complete agreement on a consensus abortion bill seems quite a distance away and the clock is ticking on the special session. If all sides stubbornly hold their ground, there will be no abortion legislation emerging from the session and this will leave pro-life advocates wondering just exactly what they have bought and paid for over the years. They may be moved to sit out a cycle and threaten the Republican super majorities in both chambers. If some great compromise should emerge that all Republicans in the Legislature can get behind, the compromised legislation will receive an equally harsh reception in the pro-life community.  

If, on the other hand, a simple total abortion prohibition should emerge, then Democrats will receive a dramatic shot in the arm and a greatly improved election outlook for November.  

In addition, there will be a significant number of traditional Republicans who will re-examine their continued unquestioned support for the party. Pro-business and growth Republicans, who support the party for economic and fiscal reasons, may hold back on sending the big checks that are the lifeblood of any political party.  

Republicans are on the horns of a dilemma writ large, with no easy answers in sight and facing the daily tic toc of the legislative clock.

Personally, I’ve always felt that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all and feel that compromise may be the best course of action. Of course, no abortion limitations of any kind will ever be acceptable to the Democrats. The ground for legislative salvation rests somewhere between a total abortion prohibition and severely restricted abortions. Some issues, such as penalties for prosecutors who don’t prosecute or whether or not performing an illegal abortion is even a criminal offense or not, may need to wait for another legislative session.  

My advice, as a former Republican county and district chairman, is to take it easy and use a measured approach to the issue. The abortion issue will always be with us and there will be future opportunities to tweak the law. As former Gov. Mitch Daniels used to say, “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.” 

Dunn is the former Howard County Republican chairman.