State opens special session to propose near-total ban

Indiana is calling a special session to pass new abortion legislation, becoming the first state to do so since the Supreme Court’s ruling dismantled federal abortion protections.

Many lawmakers, courts and advocacy groups across the country are watching Indiana as other states continue to face legal and logistical challenges implementing old trigger laws and new bans in the wake. of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and his abortion protections. The White House is also paying attention: Vice President Kamala Harris plans to meet with state lawmakers on Monday before the debate opens.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a proclamation June 22 calling on the General Assembly, which has a Republican supermajority in both houses, to return for a special session originally scheduled for July 6 before being rescheduled for July 25. The extraordinary session is due to end on August 14. according to the Indiana code.

Abortion in Indiana is currently legal up to 22 weeks after the last menstrual period, but people wanting an abortion must wait 18 hours before having the procedure and must undergo counseling and an ultrasound. When Roe was overturned last month, Indiana had no trigger law in place that would have quickly implemented a ban. In the month that followed, lawmakers working to draft new abortion legislation received thousands of letters, emails, phone calls and visits from constituents. State Senate Republicans unveiled their bill on July 20, days before the start of the special session.

A bill would completely ban abortion with a few exceptions, including if the pregnant person’s life is in danger and in cases of rape or incest. Another bill would propose nearly $50 million for programs and services dedicated to supporting pregnant women and young families.

State Senator Sue Glick, a Republican and author of the first bill, known as SB 1, said, “Many in the pro-life movement have long believed in exceptions to abortion restrictions for the life of the mother, and this exception is included in the bill. Additionally, we recognize that there are heartbreaking cases where, due to violence against women and girls, we have provided an additional exception.

The special session comes as a high-profile child rape case has thrust Indiana into the national spotlight and underscored the real impact its laws will have on Hoosiers and those in surrounding states. Earlier this month, reports surfaced of a 10-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted in Ohio, became pregnant, and traveled to terminate her pregnancy in Indiana. National and international media highlighted the story; the doctor who performed the abortion was the subject of intense public and media scrutiny; and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced on Fox News that he would investigate the situation.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced last week that she would travel to Indianapolis to meet with state lawmakers on Monday to “discuss the fight to protect reproductive rights.”

If passed as proposed, the two Senate bills will take effect on September 1.

Glick said the proposed legislation “is not intended to criminalize women” and stressed that it would not affect access to the morning after pill or any other method of birth control. It also wouldn’t affect treatment for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies or in vitro fertilization procedures, she said. And in terms of enforcement, the bill doesn’t create new penalties for doctors who perform abortions — instead building on existing policies that would revoke a doctor’s license for performing an illegal abortion. , added Glick.

If the proposed legislation passes as is, Indiana would be one of at least eight states to ban abortion of conception, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Unlike Indiana’s proposed legislation, however, many have no exceptions to their bans. In Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota and Texas, for example, prohibit abortion without exception for rape or incest.

When Senate Republicans announced their bill, Democratic lawmakers were quick to condemn any restrictions on abortion. Indiana’s ACLU also released a letter signed by more than 200 businesses opposing the restrictions, though some of the state’s largest businesses remained silent. Ryan Mears, a Democratic prosecutor, even announced that his office would not prosecute abortion-related crimes regardless of the new law. A recent survey found that more Hoosiers opposed abortion after six weeks, but the majority supported abortions in cases of rape and to save the life of the pregnant person.

Senator Rodric Bray, a Republican and interim president of the Indiana Senate, also introduced SB 2, a bill that would allocate millions of dollars to support pregnant women, before and after birth.

“While we can have educated guesses about what kind of support might be needed after the implementation of Senate Bill 1, no one can predict exactly what services will be needed in post-Roe Indiana,” said Bray said last week when unveiling the legislation. “That said, this special session, we intend to use Senate Bill 2 to add an additional $50 million to support programs for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.”

The majority of the funding would go towards establishing the Hoosier Families First Fund, which would power what the bill describes as pregnancy resource centers, access to contraception and pregnancy planning, and a health program community that connects first-time mothers with nurses. The bill includes language that would increase access to child care for low-income families and provide additional support for foster and adoptive families. The remaining $5 million would be used to increase Indiana’s adoption credit cap from $1,000 to $10,000.

If the measures pass, the budget committee will review how the money is allocated in January when it meets again for a budget session.