Abortion ban bill narrowly passes the Indiana Senate, House consideration next

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("Indiana State Capitol Building" by Drew Tarvin, CC BY 2.0)

An abortion ban has narrowly passed the Indiana Senate, and will go to the House next week.

In a rare Saturday session, the bill passed 26-20. The 26 yes votes are the bare minimum needed to pass. 10 Republicans joined Democrats in opposing it — five of them say there shouldn’t be exceptions for rape and incest, while the others say the bill is too strict or otherwise flawed.

In two days of testimony in the Senate Rules Committee and three hours of debate on the Senate floor, no senator or witness has spoken in support of the bill except its author, LaGrange Republican Susan Glick. And even Glick acknowledges she’s “not particularly” satisfied with it. But Glick says passing the bill allows the process to continue, and predicts the House will make further changes when it takes up the bill next week. Republicans Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) and Stacey Donato (R-Logansport both said they have continuing misgivings about the bill, but voted yes to keep the bill moving. A no vote from either wouldn’t have killed the bill outright, but would have forced a revote next week, in hopes one of three absent Republicans would provide the required 26th vote.

The bill bans nearly all abortions in Indiana unless the mother’s life is at risk. The only exceptions are in cases of rape and incest, where abortion would be permissible within eight weeks of the assault — 12 weeks if the victim is under 16.

Bloomington Senator Shelli Yoder blasted those exceptions as “laughable” and “an imitation of compassion.” She says the eight-week window often isn’t enough time for a woman to discover she’s pregnant, especially teenagers who don’t yet fully understand their bodies. Even if pregnancy is confirmed within the time limit, Yoder argues it’s too short a time frame for a woman to make a difficult decision. She recalled visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic three times when she was pregnant and unmarried, wrestling with the decision before eventually electing to carry the pregnancy to term. She declares other women should have the same ability to make that decision — and shouldn’t have to be raped in order to earn that right.

Indiana and National Right to Life opposed the bill, objecting to the rape and incest exceptions and contending the bill weakens existing law in cases of fetal abnormalities. 12 senators who supported an attempt to delete those exceptions, including Donato, voted for the bill anyway.

I-U Health, Indiana’s largest health care network, issued a statement after the vote warning the bill restricts care that “is medically proven and appropriate for the health and life of a pregnant patient.” The statement warns if the bill becomes law, it will “impact our ability to provide safe and effective patient care, and could deter physicians seeking to live and practice healthcare in Indiana.”

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