Indiana abortion ban becomes law; a rape, incest, medical exceptions

  • After its adoption by the Indiana General Assembly, the near-total ban on abortion was signed Friday evening by Governor Eric Holcomb.
  • The law prohibits abortion except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality and when the life of the pregnant person is in danger.
  • Republicans attempted to remove the exceptions, but failed. The law goes into effect on September 15.

Indiana has approved a near-total abortion ban that will go into effect Sept. 15, making the state the first in the nation to enact sweeping restrictions on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday evening that he had signed the measure, known as Senate Bill 1, less than an hour after it passed, capping a marathon day in which both houses passed the bill banning abortion, with very few exceptions.

“After Roe’s overthrow, I made it clear that I would support legislation that made progress in protecting life,” Holcomb said. “In my view, (the bill) accomplishes this goal after passing both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly with a solid majority of support.”

The Biden administration chastised the passage of the ban on Saturday, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre describing it as “a devastating step.” Earlier in the week, President Biden signed an executive order supporting people traveling out of state for an abortion.

“This is another sweeping step by Republican lawmakers to take away women’s reproductive rights and freedoms and put personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians rather than women and their doctors,” he said. she stated. “Yesterday’s vote, which establishes a near total ban on abortion in Indiana, should be a signal to Americans across the country to speak up. Congress should also act immediately to pass a legislation restoring Roe’s protections – the only way to guarantee a woman’s right to choose nationally.”

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Late Friday, the Indiana Senate voted 28 to 19 to approve the near-total ban the House passed earlier in the day.

“It makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the country,” said Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.

The bill passed the House, 62-38, on Friday afternoon. All 71 Republicans in the House split, with nine voting against the bill. The party is split on the issue, with some saying the bill goes too far in restricting abortion and others saying it doesn’t go far enough.

McNamara passed the bill in the House. She said Friday that the purpose of the bill was to strengthen protections for women and babies. The majority of Republicans wanted to see a stronger bill with no exceptions for rape and incest, but most ultimately settled for what they could pass.

“At the end of the day, they’re considering whether to somehow eliminate 99% of abortions in the state of Indiana,” she said after Friday’s vote.

No Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

As the soft-spoken House Chaplain led the chamber in an invocation to open the last day of the special two-week legislative session on Friday – called to pass financial aid but co-opted to ban abortion after the ruling Supreme Court Dobbs in late June – a small but vocal contingent of abortion rights protesters nearly drowned out their plea to God with chants of “ban our bodies.”

The crowd of protesters flocking to the Statehouse had dwindled considerably since the abortion debate began last week. A dozen people holding signs watched the proceedings from large windows at the back of the House chamber and another dozen, including several anti-abortion activists, dotted the viewing gallery.

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Probably all were disappointed by the bill passed on Friday, which prohibits abortion except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities and when the life of the pregnant person is in danger.

The legislature passed the bill despite polls indicating that a majority of Hoosiers support at least some degree of abortion access.

Anti-abortion groups opposed SB 1 because of the few instances in which it would still allow abortion. Last week, Indiana Right to Life said he “didn’t wait 50 years for Roe’s complete reversal against Wade for this.”

On Thursday evening, the majority of Republicans in the House tried to remove the exceptions to the ban on abortion in cases of rape and incest. That effort failed, as it did last week in the Senate.

Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, is one of the most extreme abortion opponents in the chamber and has backed a failed effort to turn the bill into a total abortion ban, with no exceptions. On the floor Friday, Jacob said he would vote against SB 1 because “it’s a weak, pathetic bill that still allows for the murder of babies.” Jacob lost his Republican primary race in May.

Jacob’s comment infuriated at least one of his fellow lawmakers.

Rep. Renee Pack, D-Indianapolis, told the chamber she had an abortion in 1990 at Fort Hood, central Texas, while serving in the military. Pack was married and already the mother of two children. She said she had to choose between having another child or continuing her military career.

“After everything I’ve been through in my life…I had to go to the Statehouse to have my co-workers call me a murderer,” Pack said, raising his voice. “Sir, I’m not a murderer. And neither are my sisters. We’re pro-choice. That’s what we are…We believe we have control over our own bodies.”

Last week, the Indianapolis business community joined a long list of organizations — including every major medical association — in opposing the legislation over fears of the economic impact such a ban would have. will have on the state. Already, a major event has said it is “deeply disturbed” by the proposal. David Hoppe, president of Gen Con, a massive annual tabletop gaming convention, said Wednesday that if the state passed SB 1, it would “make it harder for us to stay committed to Indiana as our home. long-term annual.

Visit Indy said conventions and major trade shows have asked for “clarification on what’s going on with the bill and how it’s progressing.”

Several GOP lawmakers voted for the bill despite the fact that it wasn’t perfect. Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, said she knows some would be disappointed that the bill doesn’t prevent all abortions. Still, Brown said it was a good start.

“I know what we’re doing today is just the beginning,” Brown said. “Our actions today will save so many lives.”

Contact IndyStar Education Reporter Arika Herron via email at [email protected] or on Twitter: @ArikaHerron.