Indiana legislature first to approve abortion ban in post-Roe era

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Legislature on Friday became the first in the nation to pass new legislation restricting access to abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade lifted.

The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has not indicated if he will sign it.

Indiana was among the first Republican-led state lawmakers to discuss tougher abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the constitutional protections overturned the procedure. It is the first state to pass a ban by both houses after the West Virginia legislature missed an opportunity to become that state on July 29.


The debates come amid an evolving landscape of abortion policy across the country as Republicans face some party splits and Democrats see a possible upswing in the election year.

The Senate approved the near-total ban between 28 and 19 hours after House members passed it 62-38.

It contains limited exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest, and to protect the mother’s life and physical health. The exceptions for rape and incest are limited to 10 weeks after conception, meaning victims in Indiana could not get an abortion after that. Victims would not have to sign a notarized affidavit confirming 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 hostile states in the nation.”

Outside the House of Representatives, abortion rights activists often chanted over the legislature’s pronouncements and carried signs like “Roe roe roe your vote” and “Build this wall” between church and state. Some House Democrats wore blazers over pink Bans Off Our Bodies T-shirts.

The House added exemptions to protect the mother’s health and life after repeated requests from doctors and others. It also allows abortions when 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 of the issue rarely, if ever, supported the legislation. Abortion advocates said the law went too far, while anti-abortionists said it didn’t go far enough.

The House of Representatives also largely partisanly rejected a Democrat proposal to put a non-binding question on November’s statewide election vote: “Should abortion remain legal in Indiana?”

The proposal came after Kansas voters firmly 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 was ousted.

Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston told reporters that if residents are unhappy, they can vote for new lawmakers.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the Senate,” he said. “Voters have an opportunity to vote and if they are unhappy they have an opportunity both in November and for years to come.”

Indiana’s proposed ban also came after the political firestorm 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 ban on the “fetal heartbeat.”

Democratic Rep. Maureen Bauer tearfully spoke ahead of Friday’s vote about people in her South Bend Borough who oppose the law — the husbands who stand behind their wives, the fathers who support their daughters — as well as the wives “who demanding that we be seen as equals.”

Bauer’s comments were followed by loud cheers from protesters in the hallway and muted applause from fellow Democrats.

“You might not have thought these women would show up,” Bauer said. “Maybe you thought we weren’t paying attention.”

West Virginia lawmakers missed a chance to be the first state with a uniform ban on July 29 after the House of Representatives refused to approve Senate amendments removing criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions. Delegates instead asked for a conference committee to consider the details between the bills.

The debates come amid an evolving landscape of abortion policy across the country as Republicans face party divisions and Democrats see a possible upswing in the election year.

Religion was a constant theme during the special session, both in statements from local residents and in comments from lawmakers.

Speaking out against the law, Rep. Ann Vermilion condemned fellow Republicans who labeled women who perform abortions as “murderers.”

“I think the promise of the Lord is mercy and kindness,” she said. “He would not step forward to judge these women.” Indiana legislature first to approve abortion ban in post-Roe era

Fry Electronics Team

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