INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana on Friday became the first state in the nation to approve abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the Republican governor who quickly signed a near-total ban on the procedure shortly after lawmakers approved it.
The ban, which takes effect on September 15, includes some exceptions. Abortions would be allowed in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality. Victims of rape and incest would not be required to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to an assault, as had previously been proposed.
Under the bill, abortions can only be performed in hospitals or hospital-owned outpatient centers, meaning all abortion clinics would lose their license. A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file required reports must also lose their medical license — language that tightens Indiana’s current law that says a doctor “may” lose their license.
“I am personally very proud of every Hoosier who has come forward to courageously share their perspective in a debate that is not expected to end any time soon,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in the statement announcing he had signed the measure. “For my part as your governor, I will continue to keep an ear open.”
His approval came after the Senate approved the ban 28-19 and the House advanced it 62-38.
Indiana was among the first Republican-led state legislatures to debate tougher abortion laws after the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that removed constitutional protections for the procedure. But it is the first state to pass a ban by both houses, after West Virginia lawmakers passed up July 29 the chance to be that state.
“Glad to be done with this, one of the hardest things we’ve ever done as a State General Assembly, at least certainly since I’ve been here,” said Senate Speaker Pro -Tem Rodric Bray, to journalists after the vote. “I think it’s a huge opportunity, and we’re going to use it as we move forward from here.”
Senator Sue Glick de LaGrange, who sponsored the bill, said she doesn’t think “every state will fall to the same place,” but that most Indiana residents support some aspects of the bill. law.
Some senators from both parties lamented the provisions of the bill and the impact it would have on the state, including low-income women and the health care system. Eight Republicans joined 11 Democrats in voting against the bill, though their reasons for thwarting the measure were mixed.
“We are going backwards on democracy,” said Democratic Senator Jean Breaux of Indianapolis, who wore a green ribbon on her lapel Friday signifying her support for abortion rights. “What other freedoms, what other freedoms are on the chopping block, waiting to be stripped?
Republican Senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores spoke about his 21-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome. Bohacek voted against the bill, saying it does not provide adequate protections for disabled women who are raped.
“If she lost her favorite stuffed animal, she would be inconsolable. Imagine carrying a child to term,” he said before he began to choke, then threw his notes on his seat and left the room.
Republican Sen. Mike Young of Indianapolis, however, said the bill’s enforcement provisions against doctors are not strong enough.
Such debates have demonstrated Indiana residents’ own divisions on the issue, on display in hours of testimony heard by lawmakers over the past two weeks. Residents rarely, if ever, expressed support for the legislation in their testimony, as abortion-rights supporters said the bill went too far while anti-abortion activists said it didn’t. didn’t go far enough.
The debates unfolded amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans grapple with some party splits and Democrats see a possible election-year boost.
Republican Rep. Wendy McNamara of Evansville, who sponsored the House bill, told reporters after the House vote that the legislation “makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the country”.
Outside the chambers, abortion rights activists often chanted lawmakers’ remarks, carrying signs such as “Roe roe roe your vote” and “Build that wall” between church and state. Some House Democrats wore blazers over pink “Bans Off Our Bodies” T-shirts.
Indiana’s ban followed the political storm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to terminate her pregnancy. The case drew attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child came to Indiana because of Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” ban.
Religion was a recurring theme during the legislative debates, both in the testimonies of the inhabitants and in the comments of the legislators.
In arguing against the House bill, Rep. Ann Vermilion condemned fellow Republicans who called the women “murderers” for having abortions.
“I think the Lord’s promise is for grace and goodness,” she said. “He wouldn’t jump to convict these women.”