Indiana on Friday became the first state in the nation 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 Sept. 15, includes some exceptions. Abortions would be permitted in cases of rape and incest, before 10-weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly. Victims of rape and incest would not be required to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to an attack, as had once been proposed.
Under the bill, abortions can be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals, meaning all abortion clinics would lose their licenses. A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file required reports must also lose their medical license — wording that tightens current Indiana law that says a doctor “may” lose their license, Associated Press reported.
"I am personally most proud of each Hoosier who came forward to courageously share their views in a debate that is unlikely to cease any time soon,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in the statement announcing that he had signed 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.
As per Associated Press, Indiana was among the earliest Republican-run state legislatures to debate 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 passed up the chance to be that state.
The debates came amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans face some party divisions and Democrats see a possible election-year boost.
Republican Rep. 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 lawmakers' remarks, carrying 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.
Indiana's ban followed the political firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to end 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 residents’ testimony and lawmakers' comments.
In advocating against the House bill, Rep. Ann Vermilion condemned fellow Republicans who have called women “murderers” for getting an abortion.
“I think that the Lord’s promise is for grace and kindness,” she said. “He would not be jumping to condemn these women.”
Image courtesy: Arleigh Rodgers/AP