INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana legislature has become the first in the country Friday to pass new legislation restricting abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The measure now falls to Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
The prohibition 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.
Indiana was among the first Republican-led state legislatures to debate tougher abortion laws after the Supreme Court’s decision in June that removed constitutional protections from the process. 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 Indiana Senate approved the near-total ban 28-19, hours after House members advanced it 62-38.
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 of the issue 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 ask a non-binding question on the Statewide November Election Poll: ‘Will Abortion Remain Legal in Indiana?’
The proposal came after Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure it 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 unseated.
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 draws attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child had come to Indiana because of Ohio “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.”
West Virginia lawmakers passed up the opportunity on July 29 to be the first state to have a unified ban after its House of Delegates refused to approve Senate amendments that removed criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions. Delegates instead asked a conference committee to review the details between the bills.
The debates ensue a changing abortion policy landscape across the country as Republicans face splits between parties and Democrats see a possible boost for the election year.
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 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.”
Arleigh Rodgers is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers
Find AP’s full coverage of the overthrow of Roe v. Wade on: https://apnews.com/hub/abortion
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