Indiana state senators narrowly passed a nearly complete abortion ban on Saturday during a rare weekend session, sending the bill to the House after a controversial week of arguing over whether or not to allow exceptions for rape and incest.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 26 to 20 after about three hours of debate, passing the bill with the minimum 26 votes needed to send it to the House.
The bill would ban abortions from the moment a fertilized egg implants in a uterus. Exceptions are allowed in cases of rape and incest, but the patient seeking an abortion must sign a notarized affidavit confirming the assault.
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 rape and incest exceptions remained in the billand 10 Republican senators voted against.
Abortion rights advocates said the bill went too far before the vote. dr. Roberto Darroca, one of the many doctors who testified against it, argued for an exception to preserve the health of pregnant women.
“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 life of the patient and the child?”
Opponents of abortion said the bill didn’t go far enough.
Mark Hosbein was among a crowd at the Indiana State Capitol on Tuesday. For the second day in a row in the special legislative sessioncheers and screams from protesters could be heard during committee hearings in the Senate chambers. Hosbein, of Indianapolis, said he supports an abortion ban 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 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. Few believe that abortion should always be illegal, according to the poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
ThursdayIndiana Senate votes on amendment that would remove rape and incest exceptions failed 28 to 18, with 18 Republicans and 10 Democrats joining to keep the exceptions.
Some Republicans who didn’t want the exceptions had to support the bill to move from the Senate to the GOP-controlled house.
Nicole Erwin of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Indiana said Friday she expected a passage in the Senate 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.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.