Indiana Democratic state Rep. Rita Fleming retires after winning unopposed primary

By ISABELLA VOLMERT Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana state Rep. Rita Fleming announced Monday that she is retiring, citing a desire to spend more time with her family.

The Democratic lawmaker from Jeffersonville in southern Indiana was first elected to the statehouse in 2018. Fleming’s statement said she is leaving office immediately.

“I have 15 grandchildren, and they and the rest of my family are my priority,” Fleming said in a statement. “Legislative sessions are long up at the Statehouse in Indianapolis and it takes a lot of work to properly represent House District 71.”

Fleming was facing a rematch in the general election against Republican Scott Hawkins, who she narrowly beat in 2022 by a margin of about one point. A caucus will chose her replacement on the November ballot.

Fleming was the the ranking minority member of the insurance committee and served on the natural resources and public health committees.

A retired obstetrician-gynecologist, Fleming is known for authoring and backing legislation related to reproductive healthcare, including a 2022 law that prohibits the shackling of inmates during labor and delivery.

This year, she authored a bill requiring hospitals to offer postpartum Medicaid patients birth control. Democrats became divided over it after a committee removed the option to offer intrauterine devices or IUDs.

The final law signed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb requires hospitals to offer those patients a subdermal contraceptive arm implant birth control option after giving birth.

“As a retired physician with decades of experience under her belt, Rita’s empathy, care and firsthand insights helped her improve Indiana’s public health and healthcare policy,” House Democratic leader state Rep. Phil GiaQuinta said in a statement.