Indiana’s Republican-controlled Senate on Saturday approved a bill that would ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy with limited exceptions, despite opposition from abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates.
State lawmakers, reconvening in a special legislative session to consider abortion restrictions, approved Senate Bill 1 on a 26-20 vote after nearly four hours of passionate debate. It now moves to the Republican-controlled state House for consideration; if it becomes law, it would take effect on September 1.
Ten Republicans crossed party lines Saturday by voting against the bill, with some of them saying the near-total ban didn’t go far enough.
The GOP-authored bill states that those seeking an abortion after rape or incest would have to sign an affidavit attesting to the assault.
Indiana currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks after conception (or 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period).
It is one of two states, including West Virginia, that have reconvened special sessions to consider abortion restrictions since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, finding that there was no longer a federal constitutional right to the procedure.
Saturday’s discussions were heated and emotional at times, echoing debates over the bill earlier in the week. State Senate President Suzanne Crouch, a Republican, threatened to clear the gallery more than once after backlash erupted from both inside the session and from protesters gathered outside. CNN affiliate WRTV filmed a large number of protesters gathering and chanting opposition to the bill in the chamber. Some held signs that read “my body, my choice” and “abortion bans replace freedom with force.”
The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Susan Glick, previously admitted she was unhappy with it, calling it a “vehicle bill” on Saturday. Glick said he hopes the House will make changes, but in its current form, the bill is an “expression of where we think the state of Indiana is right now.” If the state House makes changes to the bill, it would return to the Senate for another vote.
Democratic state Sen. Jean Breaux called SB1 a “flawed bill” that A “deprives a woman of her right to choose.” Breaux added: “The decision to have a baby is a complicated balance of responsibilities and opportunities that should be weighed by each woman, not by politicians or Supreme Court justices.”
The bill passed a Senate committee on Tuesday, with some Republican members voting in favor of the bill but hoping it will be amended.
The committee also held a wide-ranging public debate earlier in the week, with dozens of people from doctors to religious leaders to private citizens voicing their opinions on the bill. While some opposed the bill because of the limits it placed on abortion, others opposed the measure because of its exceptions or what they called vague language.
The anti-abortion group National Right to Life and its Indiana affiliate had voiced opposition to the bill before it passed the state Senate, calling it “deeply flawed” and a “weak and troubling” measure. .
“The bill fails substantially in many areas, including failing to provide any meaningful enforcement provisions. This bill passes through motions on paper, but has no teeth to actually reduce abortions in Indiana by making those who perform abortions or who would intentionally evade the law with criminal consequences,” Indiana Right to Life said in a statement.