INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — Indiana on Friday became the first U.S. state to pass abortion restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, after the Republican governor immediately signed a near-total veto on abortion that it had received the green light shortly before.
The ban, which will take effect on September 15, includes some exceptions. Abortion will be allowed in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks after fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother, and if a fatal abnormality is diagnosed in the fetus. Victims of rape and incest will not have to sign a notarized affidavit to attest to an assault, as had been proposed.
Under the new law, termination of pregnancy can be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals, meaning abortion clinics will lose their license. A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file the required reports will lose his or her medical license, a wording that tightens current state law, which provides that the physician “may” lose permission to practice.RELATED
“I am personally so proud of every Hoosier (Indiana resident) who stepped forward to bravely share their opinion in a debate that is not likely to end anytime soon,” Governor Eric Holcomb said in a statement announcing the signing of the regulations. “For my part, as your governor, I will continue to listen.”
The Senate gave the green light to the new law by 28 votes in favor and 19 against, after it was approved 62-38 in the state House.
Indiana’s was one of the first Republican-majority legislatures to debate tightening the abortion law following the Supreme Court’s decision in June that withdrew constitutional protection for the procedure. But it is the first state to pass the veto in both chambers, after West Virginia lawmakers passed up that opportunity on July 29.
“I’m glad we’re done with this, one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as a state General Assembly, at least in the time I’ve been here,” Senate President Rodric Bray told reporters after the vote. “I think this is a great opportunity and we’re going to work on it as we go from here.”
Sen. Sue Glick, who sponsored the bill, said she doesn’t think “every state is coming to the same point” but that most Indiana residents support aspects of the rule.
Some senators from both parties lamented the provisions of the text and the impact it will have on the state, including on low-income women and on the health system. Eight Republicans joined 11 Democratic senators in voting against it.
“We’re going backwards in democracy,” said Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux, who wore a green ribbon in support of abortion rights on her lapel. “What other freedoms are on the guillotine, waiting to be cut?”
The debates showed residents’ division on the issue, reflected in the hours of testimony lawmakers heard over the past two weeks. Residents rarely, if ever, expressed support for the rule in their statements, with pro-choice activists arguing the new rule goes too far and anti-abortion advocates advocating the opposite.
The debates were held amid a changing landscape on abortion across the country, with Republicans facing some internal divisions and Democrats seeing a possible boost in the election year.
Pro-abortion activists demonstrated outside the state chambers.
Indiana’s veto came after a political firestorm caused by the case of a 10-year-old rape victim who had to travel to the state from neighboring Ohio to terminate her pregnancy. The case gained attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the girl had to go to Indiana because of bans in place in her region.