Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill Friday banning most abortions — the first state to pass a restrictive law against the procedure since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in early summer.
The Indiana House and Senate passed the GOP-sponsored bill earlier Friday.
The bill would provide exceptions for cases where the mother’s life is in danger and for fatal fetal anomalies, up to 20 weeks after fertilization. It would also allow exceptions for certain abortions if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.
Indiana currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization (or 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period). The new law will come into force on September 15.
The Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate a federal abortion right returned the issue to the states, and several Republican leaders pledged to take action to restrict access to the procedure. West Virginia also reconvened a special session, though its near-total abortion ban remains in limbo after the Republican-led legislature failed to reach a consensus and adjourned, leaving the legal abortion up to 20 weeks after fertilization. And in Kansas, voters this week easily defeated an effort to amend the state constitution to remove the right to abortion.
On Thursday, the Indiana House rejected Republican-sponsored amendments that would have removed the rape, incest and fatal fetal abnormalities exceptions from the bill. Members of the House Republican leadership were split when Speaker Todd Huston and Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Karickhoff voted against the amendments, while Majority Leader Matt Lehman backed the amendments.
A House amendment also failed Thursday that would have placed a nonbinding question on the 2022 general election ballot about whether abortion should remain legal in Indiana.
Friday’s vote at the State House followed an emotional and at times contentious debate in which protesters’ cheers and jeers could be heard amid speeches by lawmakers.
GOP House Rep. John Jacob of Indianapolis, who supports a total ban on abortion, told the House on Friday that he would not support the bill because it “regulates abortion which is baby murder. “, while calling on his colleagues to repent before God.
Democratic Rep. Renee Pack of Indianapolis then hit back at Jacob and opened up about her own abortion in 1990 when she served in the US military.
“I had to arrive in this state house for my colleagues to call me a murderer. I had to endure this kind of abuse in this room, in this bedroom. Sir, I am not a murderer, and neither are my sisters,” Pack said on Friday. “We are pro-choice. That’s who we are. We believe we have control over our own bodies.
During Friday’s debate, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle lamented the lack of time they had to consider such a difficult topic.
“We are all trying, we are all discerning, none of us are sleeping, none of us are doing well. We walk around with… knots in our stomachs,” House Rep. Ann Vermilion, a Republican from Marion, said on the floor Friday before the vote, becoming emotional.
“All of us, 150, have wept this week and we are all trying to do the will of the people while being true to our faith and our core belief,” she said.
Special attention has been given to Indiana after a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio crossed state lines to get an abortion in June after Roe was knocked down.
The Indiana doctor who provided abortion services to the 10-year-old girl said Indiana’s abortion bill “is going to hurt Hoosier women.”
“Medicine is not about exceptions,” Dr. Caitlin Bernard told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day” earlier Friday. “I can’t even begin to tell you how many patients I see in very unique situations who can’t fit into these exceptions, who can’t have a list of what I can and can’t do. They can’t wait to check with their lawyer, I can’t wait to check with my lawyer. I need to be able to take care of patients when and where they need that care.