The Indiana state legislature became the first in the country on Friday to pass new legislation restricting access to abortions since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The action now goes to Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
Indiana was among the oldest Republican-run state legislaturesAfter the Supreme Court ruling in June revoked constitutional protections for the procedure. It is the first state to pass a ban through both houses, after West Virginia lawmakers on July 29 missed an opportunity to be that state.
The debates come amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans grapple with some partisan divides and Democrats see a potential boost in an election year.
The Senate approved the near-total ban 28-19, hours after House members lifted it 62-38.
It includes limited exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest, and the protection of the mother’s life and physical health. Exceptions in cases of rape and incest are limited to 10 weeks after fertilization, which means victims cannot have an abortion in Indiana after that. Victims will not be required to sign an affidavit attesting to an attack.
Republican Representative 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.”
And outside the House floor, abortion rights activists often cheered the lawmakers’ remarks, carrying banners such as “Ru ru your voice” and “Build this wall” between church and state. Some members of the House of Representatives were wearing jackets over pink T-shirts bearing the slogan “Ban Outside Our Bodies”.
The home added exceptions to protect the mother’s health and life after repeated requests from doctors and others. It also allows abortion if the fetus has been diagnosed with a fatal malformation.
Indiana lawmakers have heard testimonies over the past two weeks in which residents on all sides of the issue have rarely supported the legislation. Abortion rights proponents said the law goes too far, while anti-abortion activists say it falls short.
The House also rejected, largely on partisan lines, a Democratic proposal to put a non-binding question on the statewide election ballot in November: “Is abortion still legal in Indiana?”
The proposal came after Kansas voters flatly rejected a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to tighten abortion in the first test of voters’ sentiments on the issue since Roe was overturned.
Indiana House Speaker Todd Houston told reporters that if residents are unhappy, they can vote for new lawmakers.
“Ultimately it is up to the Senate,” he said. “Voters have a chance to vote, and if they are dissatisfied, they will have a chance in November and in the coming years.”
Indiana’s proposed ban also came after a political storm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to terminate her pregnancy. The case drew attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the baby came to Indiana because of Ohio’s ban on “fetal heartbeat.”
Democratic Representative Maureen Power spoke in tears before Friday’s vote about people in South Bend who oppose the bill — husbands behind their wives, fathers supporting their daughters — as well as women “who demand that we be seen as an equal.”
Power’s remarks were followed by loud cheers from protesters in the hall and faint applause from fellow Democrats.
“You probably didn’t think these women would show up,” Bauer said. “You probably thought we wouldn’t pay attention.”
West Virginia lawmakers on July 29 lost the opportunity to be the first state to impose a uniform ban after the House of Delegates refused to approve Senate amendments that eliminated criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions. Delegates instead asked the conference committee to consider details between bills.
The debates come amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans grapple with partisan divisions and Democrats see a potential boost in an election year.
Religion was a constant topic during the special session, both in testimonies of residents and comments from lawmakers.
Defending against the bill, Representative Anne Vermillion denounced her fellow Republicans and called women who abortifacients “murderers.”
“I think the Lord’s promise is grace and kindness,” she said. “He will not jump to condemn these women.”