INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — 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 previously proposed in the Senate.
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.
“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 Indiana Senate approved the ban 28-19 and the House members advanced it 62-38.
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.
“Happy to be completed with this, one of the more challenging things that we’ve ever done as a State General Assembly, at least certainly while I’ve been here,” Senate President Pro-Tem Rodric Bray told reporters after the vote. “ I think this is a huge opportunity, and we’ll build on that as we go forward from here.”
Sen. Sue Glick of LaGrange, who sponsored the bill, said that she does not think “all states will come down at 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 to thwart the measure were mixed.
“We are backsliding on 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 liberties 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 adequate protections for women with disabilities who are raped.
“If she lost her favorite stuffed animal, she’d be inconsolable. Imagine making her carry a child to term,” he said before he started to choke up, then threw his notes on his seat and exited the chamber.
Republican Sen. Mike Young of Indianapolis, however, said the bill’s enforcement provisions against doctors are not stringent enough.
Such debates demonstrated Indiana residents’ own divisions on the issue, displayed in hours of testimony lawmakers heard over the past two weeks. Residents on all sides of the issue rarely, if ever, supported the legislation, as abortion-rights supporters said the bill goes too far while anti-abortion activists expressed 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 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 proposed ban also came after 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 the special session, 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.”
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Statement from Indiana University Health
At IU Health, we take seriously our responsibility to provide access to compassionate and safe, high-quality healthcare for anyone who needs it. IU Health’s priority remains ensuring our physicians and patients have clarity when making decisions about pregnancy within the limits of the law. We will take the next few weeks to fully understand the terms of the new law and how to incorporate the changes into our medical practice to protect our providers and care for the people seeking reproductive healthcare.
Statement from Eli Lilly and Company
“Lilly recognizes that abortion is a divisive and deeply personal issue with no clear consensus among the citizens of Indiana. Despite this lack of agreement, Indiana has opted to quickly adopt one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States. We are concerned that this law will hinder Lilly’s – and Indiana’s – ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world. While we have expanded our employee health plan coverage to include travel for reproductive services unavailable locally, that may not be enough for some current and potential employees.
As a global company headquartered in Indianapolis for more than 145 years, we work hard to retain and attract thousands of people who are important drivers of our state’s economy. Given this new law, we will be forced to plan for more employment growth outside our home state.”
Statement from Gov. Eric Holcomb
“Today, I proudly signed Senate Enrolled Act 2 to return $1 billion back to Hoosier taxpayers. This fulfills what I set out to accomplish when calling the General Assembly into special session in order help Hoosiers hurting from historically high inflation. I am also especially grateful for the nearly $100 million in long overdue increased funding to support the health of our Hoosier mothers and babies. While there is still more to do, better access and awareness of all our programs will be critical to improving our infant and maternal mortality rates – a long-standing priority of my administration.
“The exemplary teamwork and seriousness of purpose put into each element of SEA 2 is a testament to the elected leaders who helped shape it. I would like to thank Senator Travis Holdman, Chairman Doc Brown, and Representative Sharon Negele and the many other members from both sides of the aisle who contributed to the strength of the final product.
“The effort to provide the programmatic supports and the billion dollars of inflation relief contained in SEA 2 is all the more remarkable as it was crafted amidst the thorough and thoughtful debate on Senate Enrolled Act 1, which I also signed today.
“Following the overturning of Roe, I stated clearly that I would be willing to support legislation that made progress in protecting life. In my view, SEA 1 accomplishes this goal following its passage in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly with a solid majority of support. These actions followed long days of hearings filled with sobering and personal testimony from citizens and elected representatives on this emotional and complex topic. Ultimately, those voices shaped and informed the final contents of the legislation and its carefully negotiated exceptions to address some of the unthinkable circumstances a woman or unborn child might face.
“Thank you Senator Sue Glick and Representative Wendy McNamara for your brave authorship of SEA 1. Each of you demonstrated a steady hand and uncanny poise while carrying this once-in-a-generation legislation.
“Overall, I would be remiss if I did not share a special thanks to my friends House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray for their partnership, strength and resolve during the lead up and all the way through this special session. You each displayed the best Indiana has to offer in steering your respective chambers through unprecedented waters and delivering on your promises to conduct a respectful and thorough process.
“Lastly, to the people of Indiana, let me assure you that the democratic process marches on, and you should continue to reach out to all your elected representatives to have your voice heard. Looking back, 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. For my part as your governor, I will continue to keep an open ear.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb
Statement by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the Indiana Abortion Ban
“The Indiana legislature took a devastating step as a result of the Supreme Court’s extreme decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate women’s constitutionally-protected right to abortion. And, it’s another radical step by Republican legislators to take away women’s reproductive rights and freedom, and put personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians rather than women and their doctors. Yesterday’s vote, which institutes a near-total abortion ban in Indiana, should be a signal to Americans across the country to make their voices heard. Congress should also act immediately to pass a law restoring the protections of Roe – the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose nationally. Until then, President Biden is committed to taking action to protect women’s reproductive rights and freedom, and access to care they are afforded under Federal law.”
Statement from Mayor Mueller
“I am outraged by the extremism of our state legislators and their betrayal of Hoosier values. Their ban on abortion and critical medical care is an assault on liberty and women’s rights and will result in more preventable deaths in our state. Extreme legislation like this also hinders our efforts to attract and retain talent and build a better future for all residents. As we now face the painful lessons of the past, we must continue to uphold life, liberty and equality for all and work to ensure our laws reflect our values and the will of the people. I stand with women in their fight for freedom, equality, and access to medical care.”