By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Braun and the future of abortion

For a half century, Roe v. Wade has redefined our parties and created the political skirmish lines. There was a time when the Republican leader of the Indiana House was pro-choice, and the Democratic speaker was pro-life. No more. Indiana's GOP has become monolithically pro-life, with a policy position tantamount to whether one would move up the political ladder. After last week's U.S. Supreme Court case involving Mississippi, many are expecting an outright Roe repeal. So, what's next for Indiana politics?

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun was pressed by Meet The Press  host Chuck Todd for the future of abortion in Indiana. He had few specifics. “When it comes to things like abortion, I think it's clear it's time to turn it back to the states, let the diversity of this country show forth," Braun said on Sunday. "It eliminates a lot of the contention to where we become the Hatfields and McCoys on many of these issues. The beauty of our system is that it's federal. It's got all of these different ideas. And when you try to nationalize, federalize the way the other side of the aisle is doing on more than just this, I think you're constantly in that area of contention.” 

Todd pressed Braun, saying, "Every elected official is going to have to state very specifically now" on future restrictions, saying that they had been "hiding behind Roe." Braun: "In my case when you believe in the sanctity of life, you want abortions eliminated from the landscape if you can." He said that the issue won't likely be "settled in a homogenous way." How would you enforce a ban on abortion? "You leave that to the states," Braun responded. "You try to find that right mix. I'm not saying you got that right in Indiana." Todd: What's your idea? Braun: "It needs to be different from where it is. I don't have the silver bullet." Todd: Do you criminalize abortion? Braun: "We just need to take off from where it is and return it to the states."

2. Our COVID divide

With Indiana hospitalizations reaching near pandemic highs, former state health commissioner Dr. Richard Feldman told IN Focus on CBS4, "Most people are not taking this seriously. They’re not wearing masks, they’re not doing any mitigation, [the pandemic] is over for them.” On the same show, U.S. Sen. Todd Young urged Hoosiers not to "over react," saying, “Hoosiers should continue to follow the guidance of doctors and public health experts, as most Hoosiers are.” A total of 5,659 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the state on Friday with 2,408 Hoosiers hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday. Currently 26.7% of ICU beds are in use by coronavirus patients. 
3. Only 62% of National Guard vax

Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports that only 62% of Indiana National Guard members have received the COVID vaccine, while 88% of airmen have. Gov. Eric Holcomb: “I have 100% confidence in Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, and he's following the law and will continue to do that.” Indiana Guard: “The health and well-being of our service members are of paramount importance. Our guardsmen protect our nation and help our state in times of need, and they should protect themselves as much as possible from COVID-19 to be ready at a moment's notice. Ultimately, this is a matter of readiness, and the best way to help maintain the Indiana National Guard's readiness is for our troops to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the statement continued.

4. COVID killing more Republicans

National Public Radio: Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for President Biden. People living in counties that went 60% or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.7 times the death rates of those that went for Biden. 

5. R.I.P. Bob Dole

New York Times: Bob Dole, the plain-spoken son of the prairie who overcame Dust Bowl deprivation in Kansas and grievous battle wounds in Italy to become the Senate majority leader and the last of the World War II generation to win his party’s nomination for president, died on Sunday. He was 98. HPI: I covered Bob Dole's 1996 presidential nomination while reporting on Sen. Richard Lugar's campaign that year. He was a steady, partisan Republican juggernaut. David Letterman asked Dole on Nov. 8, 1996 — three days after Dole lost the presidential election - "Bob, what have you been doing lately?" Dole: "Apparently not enough." In 2017, my father Jack Howey accompanied by my niece Alice Deer went on a World War II Honor Flight and there at the World War II Memorial greeting these veterans was Sen. Dole. Rest in peace, senator.

Thanks for reading, folks. It's The Atomic!