INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Legislature on Friday became the first in the nation to pass new legislation restricting abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.
The measure now goes to Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
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. It’s the first state to pass a ban by both houses, after West Virginia lawmakers passed on July 29 the chance to be that state.
The debates come 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.
The Senate approved the near-total ban 28-19, hours after House members moved it forward 62-38.
It includes limited exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest, and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. The exceptions for rape and incest are limited to 10 weeks after fertilization, which means victims could not have an abortion in Indiana after that. Victims would not be required to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to an attack.
Republican Rep. Wendy McNamara of Evansville, who sponsored the bill, told reporters after the House vote that the legislation “makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the country.”
Outside the House chamber, abortion rights activists often chanted remarks by lawmakers, carrying signs such as “Roe roe roe your vote” and “Build this wall” between the Church and the ‘State. Some House Democrats wore blazers over pink “Bans Off Our Bodies” T-shirts.
The House added exceptions to protect the health and life of the mother after repeated requests from doctors and others. It also allows abortions if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.
Indiana lawmakers have listened to hours of testimony over the past two weeks in which residents on all sides have rarely, if ever, supported the legislation. Abortion-rights supporters said the bill went too far, while anti-abortion activists said it didn’t go far enough.
The House also rejected, largely along party lines, a Democratic proposal to place a nonbinding question on the ballot in the statewide November election: “Will abortion remain legal? in Indiana?”
The proposal came after Kansas voters vehemently rejected a measure that would have allowed the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to tighten abortion in the first test of voters’ feelings on the issue since Roe first been knocked down.
Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston told reporters that if residents are unhappy, they can vote for new lawmakers.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to the Senate,” he said. “Voters have the opportunity to vote, and if they are unhappy, they will have the opportunity both in November and in the years to come.”
Indiana’s proposed ban also came after 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 had come to Indiana because of Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” ban.
Democratic Rep. Maureen Bauer spoke tearfully ahead of Friday’s vote of residents in her South Bend district who oppose the bill — husbands standing behind their wives, fathers supporting their daughters — as well as wives.” that demand that we be seen as equals.”
Bauer’s comments were followed by loud cheers from protesters in the hallway and subdued applause from fellow Democrats.
“You may not have thought these women would show up,” Bauer said. “Maybe you thought we wouldn’t be careful.”
On July 29, West Virginia lawmakers passed up the chance to be the first state with a unified ban after its House of Delegates refused to approve Senate amendments that removed criminal penalties for practicing physicians. illegal abortions. Delegates instead asked a conference committee to review the details between the bills.
The debates come amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans grapple with party divisions and Democrats see a possible election-year boost.
Religion was a persistent theme during the special session, both in testimonials from residents and in comments from lawmakers.
In arguing against the bill, Rep. Ann Vermilion condemned her fellow Republicans by calling women who got abortions “murderers.”
“I think the Lord’s promise is for grace and goodness,” she said. “He wouldn’t jump to convict these women.”