Indiana becomes first state to approve abortion ban after Roe: NPR

Written by Javed Iqbal

Abortion-rights protesters fill the corridors of the Indiana Statehouse and cheer outside the legislative chambers, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, as lawmakers vote to agree on a near-total abortion ban in Indianapolis.

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Arleigh Rodgers/AP

Abortion-rights protesters fill the corridors of the Indiana Statehouse and cheer outside the legislative chambers, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, as lawmakers vote to agree on a near-total abortion ban in Indianapolis.

Arleigh Rodgers/AP

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana on Friday became the first state in the country to approve abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, as the Republican governor quickly signed a near-total ban on the procedure shortly after lawmakers approved it.

The ban, which takes effect on September 15, contains some exceptions. Abortion would be permitted in cases of rape and incest before 10 weeks after conception; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal anomaly. Rape and incest victims would not be required to sign a notarized statement attesting to an assault, as was once proposed.

According to the bill, abortions can only be performed in hospitals or dispensaries owned by hospitals, meaning all abortion clinics will lose their licenses. A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file the required reports must also lose their medical license — wording that tightens current Indiana law that says a doctor “may” lose their license.

“I am personally most proud of every single Hoosier who came forward to courageously share their views in a debate that is unlikely to end anytime soon,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in the statement announcing his signing of the measure. “For my part as your governor, I will continue to keep an open ear.”

His approval came after the Senate approved the ban 28-19 and the House advanced it 62-38.

Indiana was among the earliest Republican-run state legislatures to discuss tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling in June that removed constitutional protections for the procedure. But it is the first state to pass a ban through both chambers after West Virginia lawmakers on July 29 abandoned the chance to be that state.

“Glad to be done with this, one of the more challenging things we’ve ever done as a state General Assembly, certainly certainly while I’ve been here,” Senate President Pro-Tem Rodric Bray said to journalists after the vote. “I think it’s a huge opportunity, and we’ll build on that as we go forward from here.”

Late. Sue Glick of LaGrange, who sponsored the bill, said she doesn’t think “every state is going to come down in the same place,” but that most Indiana residents support aspects of the bill.

Some senators in both parties lamented the bill’s provisions and the impact it would have on the state, including low-income women and the health care system. Eight Republicans joined all 11 Democrats in voting against the bill, though their reasons for opposing the measure were mixed.

“We’re going back for democracy,” said Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis, who wore a green ribbon Friday signifying support for abortion rights on her lapel. “What other freedoms, what other freedoms are on the chopping block, waiting to be stripped away?”

Republican Sen. Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores spoke about his 21-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome. Bohacek voted against the bill, saying it does not have enough protections for women with disabilities who are raped.

“If she lost her favorite stuffed animal, she would be inconsolable. Imagine having her carry a child to term,” he said before he began to choke up, then threw his notes on his seat and left the chamber.

However, Republican Sen. Mike Young of Indianapolis said the bill’s enforcement provisions against doctors are not strict enough.

Such debates demonstrated Indiana residents’ own divisions on the issue, shown in hours of testimony lawmakers heard over the past two weeks. Residents rarely, if ever, expressed support for the legislation in their testimony, as abortion rights supporters said the bill goes too far, while anti-abortion activists said it doesn’t go far enough.

The debates came amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country, as Republicans face some party divisions and Democrats see a possible boost in the election year.

Republican Representative Wendy McNamara of Evansville, who sponsored the House bill, told reporters after the House vote that the legislation “makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the nation.”

Outside the chambers, abortion rights activists often chanted over the lawmakers’ remarks, carrying signs such as “Rogerrogn your vote” and “Build this wall” between church and state. Some House Democrats wore blazers over pink “Bans Off Our Bodies” T-shirts.

Indiana’s ban followed the political firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to terminate her pregnancy. The case gained attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child came to Indiana because of Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” ban.

Religion was a persistent theme during legislative debates, both in resident testimony and legislators’ comments.

In his speech against the Parliament’s bill, rep. Ann Vermilion other Republicans who have called women “murderers” for getting an abortion.

“I think the Lord’s promise is for grace and kindness,” she said. “He would not jump to condemn these women.”

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Javed Iqbal

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