INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana state senators will meet in a rare Saturday session to vote on a near-complete abortion ban, with passage sending the bill to the House after a controversial week of discussions about whether to allow or not exceptions for rape and incest.
Indiana is one of the first Republican-controlled states to debate tougher abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the precedent setting a national right to abortion last month. But the GOP shattered after the rape and incest exceptions remained in the billand it wasn’t clear if enough anti-abortion lawmakers would support it for approval.
The proposal would ban abortions from the moment a fertilized egg implants in a uterus. Exceptions are allowed in cases of rape and incest, but a woman or girl who wants an abortion for any reason must sign a notarized statement confirming the assault.
LaGrange Republican Senator Sue Glick, who drafted the abortion bill, declined to speculate about the law’s chances of passing.
Abortion rights advocates thought the bill went too far. dr. Roberto Darroca, one of several doctors who testified against it, argued for an exception to preserve the mother’s health.
“Decisions have to be made quickly. Waiting for legal advice would freeze this decision-making process,” Darroca said. “Can you imagine the dilemma facing the doctor? The freedom of the doctor versus the lives of the patient and the child?”
Opponents of abortion said it didn’t go far enough.
Mark Hosbein was among a large crowd at the Statehouse on Tuesday. For the second day in a row in the special legislative session cheers and screams from protesters could be heard during committee hearings in the Senate chambers. Hosbein, of Indianapolis, said he supports an abortion without exception — even to protect the mother’s life.
“It’s wrong to try to kill the mother to save the baby, and it’s wrong to try to kill the baby to save the mother,” he said. “There are all kinds of limits, restrictions and everything that happens here. But I’m here hoping to stop the whole thing.”
A national poll this month found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe their state should generally allow abortion in specific cases, including when a woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, few people think that abortion should always be illegal.
Thursday Senate vote tonight on the amendment that would have removed the rape and incest exceptions failed 28-18, with 18 Republicans and 10 Democrats joining to keep the exceptions.
Some Republicans who didn’t want the exceptions will have to support the bill to pass it from the Senate to the GOP-controlled house.
Nicole Erwin, of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Indiana, said she expected a Senate passage, followed by house lawmakers passing a full ban.
“They have waited far too long for this moment,” Erwin said in a statement. “We’ve seen time and time again that we can only expect the worst, which means passing an outright abortion ban.”
Anti-abortion groups have tried to increase pressure on conservative lawmakers.
If they don’t pass legislation during the three-week session, “they need to explain to voters why they haven’t done anything in Indiana to address this problem,” Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter said early in the week. .
Republican House Speaker Todd Huston declined to talk about what’s in the Senate bill, but said he supports the rape and incest exceptions.
“I told myself we’ll all be discussing this next week,” he said.
Arleigh Rodgers is a member of the Corps for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national, not-for-profit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues. Follow her on Twitter on https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers
Find AP’s full coverage of Roe v. Wade’s overthrow at: https://apnews.com/hub/abortion