Indiana lawmakers propose abortion ban with narrow exceptions

A bill unveiled by Senate Republicans does not allow a grace-period for women seeking an abortion after conception. 

By: - July 20, 2022 4:41 pm

Indiana Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, unveils a bill seeking to ban nearly all abortions in Indiana during a news conference at the Statehouse on July 20, 2022. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana’s Republican supermajority will seek to ban virtually all abortions in the state, only leaving narrow exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

A bill unveiled by Senate Republican leadership Wednesday would not allow a grace-period for women seeking an abortion after conception. 

Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, said the bill won’t impact treatment of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or fatal fetal anomalies. The procedure would be allowed in instances of rape, but only until 20 weeks of gestation, as outlined in current state law.

The bill would not limit access to the “morning after” pill or any forms of contraception. Current Indiana law makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an illegal abortion and under the bill most abortions would be illegal. There are no criminal penalties for women who seek abortions in the bill.

Glick — a more moderate member of the caucus — will carry the bill.

“We are not here to criminalize women, we are here to support mothers and help them bring happy and healthy babies to term,” she said. “We in the pro-life movement have long believed in exceptions to abortion restrictions for the life of the mother, and that is reflected in our legislation. In addition, we recognize there are heartbreaking cases where, because of violence committed against women and young girls, providing some additional exceptions is necessary. That’s why the legislation we are introducing provides exceptions for cases of rape and incest, which I believe a majority of Hoosiers support.”

While 13 states had “trigger bans” to criminalize abortion when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Indiana is one of the first to see legislative debate on abortion restrictions since the Dobbs decision.

Indiana currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks of gestation. If the bill is enacted, the state will have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. Oklahoma and Missouri ban abortion at conception and the only exception is for the life of the mother. 

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said the legislation will be debated at the Statehouse starting Monday. That’s when a special legislative session begins in earnest.

Senate Special Session Schedule

Monday, July 25

11 a.m.: Senate convenes to introduce bills for first reading. Debate on bills does not typically occur at this stage.

1 – 5 p.m.: The Senate rules committee will meet in the Senate Chamber to hear Senate Bill 1, which deals with abortion. Members of the public will be allowed to provide testimony during this time. A vote will not be taken Monday.

Tuesday, July 26

9 a.m. – noon: The Senate rules committee will meet in the Senate Chamber to continue hearing public testimony on SB 1. The committee is expected to vote on SB 1 at the end of the meeting. If all those present who signed up have testified before noon, the committee will move to discussion and consideration of the bill at that time.

Wednesday, July 27

1:30 p.m.: The Senate will convene for session to adopt committee reports. Debate on bills does not typically occur at this stage.

Thursday, July 28

1:30 p.m.: The Senate will convene for session for Senate bill(s) on second reading. At this stage, senators may offer, debate and vote on amendments to bills. Filed amendments will be available for review at iga.in.gov.

Friday, July 29

10:30 a.m.: The Senate will convene for Senate bill(s) on third reading. Debate on those bills will occur at this stage, and a final vote is expected to be taken on them.

Lawmakers will have to finalize their bills by August 14, in accordance with state law.

What Republicans proposed

Under the proposal, surgical abortions could only be done in hospitals or standalone ambulatory surgical centers. Just medication abortions would be permitted in other licensed facilities.

Women who were victims of incest or rape would not be required to go to the police in order to undergo the procedure, but they would have to provide the physician with an affidavit, signed under penalties of perjury, attesting to the abuse, according to the bill.

Bray announced a second proposed spending bill Wednesday that will address the needs of post-Roe parents denied an abortion, while strongly encouraging adoption.

He said a $50 million “initial” investment will go to four state agencies, who may award the monies to programs that support health pregnancies and families.

“We want to work with young people … and give them the opportunity to prevent conception in such a way that’s scientific, and that’s safe,” Glick said. “We want to make as many avenues available … to make sure they’re not having unwanted pregnancies if they’re not able or unwilling to carry a child to term … we would rather deal with it on the front end, rather than the site where we’re dealing with an abortion.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb did comment specifically on the abortion bill after it was released Wednesday.

The Republican governor has previously signed every anti-abortion bill that has made it his desk. Holcomb maintained last week that he has no “ultimatums,” suggesting he could sign into a law the current abortion-restricting proposal.

Pro-life activists applaud the proposal

Indiana Republicans have been meeting behind-closed-doors to prepare the abortion legislation in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision that turned abortion regulations over to states.

Model legislation drafted by prominent Right to Life attorney Jim Bopp led to previous speculation that state lawmakers would take a more drastic approach to restrict abortion access. Bopp’s plan sought to ban abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest; as well as criminalize providing information online for women seeking abortions.

Indiana Right To Life President Mike Fichter did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the bill was unveiled. He told reporters Wednesday morning that the pro-life group expected lawmakers to significantly restrict abortions.

“Roe is no longer in place. The Roe shield is no longer there, so this is the time. This is the time for Indiana to pass loving and compassionate protections for unborn children,” Fichter said. “We believe every single Hoosier deserves to be born.”

Fichter previously expressed concern after Republican Sen. Kyle Walker on Tuesday became the first member of his party to release a public statement detailing his stances on abortion legislation.

Walker said he supported a “balanced approach” to restrictions. The lawmaker suggested cutting Indiana’s abortion deadline from 20 weeks of gestation to between 12 and 15 weeks, including a range of exceptions.

Fichter pushed back against that proposal, arguing that it would be “completely unacceptable” to allow abortions under those parameters.

He said legislators should additionally earmark more money for organizations that provide services to pregnant people, as well as an increase in Indiana’s adoption tax credit.

“We expect Republican legislators, quite frankly, to honor their commitments to Indiana’s pro-life community,” Fichter said. “This is their historic opportunity to step up to the plate.”

Democrats respond

Indiana Democrats have remained outspoken against any Republican-backed plans to curtail access to abortions.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor of Indianapolis said the proposed abortion restrictions are a “drastic” step and would lead to more women’s deaths.

“When pregnant women cannot access vital components of health care, they are at greater risk of having their pregnancy end in a fatality — especially if they already have existing health conditions or illnesses,” Taylor said. “Everything from the language of the proposed bill to the legislative process surrounding it is cause for concern, and my caucus will be fighting with everything we’ve got for women and Hoosiers across the state.”

House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said in a statement following the bill’s release that Indiana Republicans are “gambling with the lives of Hoosier women to gain points in an ultimately unwinnable culture war.”

“The choice to have an abortion is a personal decision that ought to be left up to a woman and her health care provider, not Republicans who are playing doctor in the Indiana Statehouse,” GiaQuinta said.

Bray said opinions among lawmakers in the House and Senate vary — meaning the bill is likely to be amended over the course of the upcoming special session.

He emphasized, however, that lawmakers are prepared for “lengthy committee hearings,” during which members of the public will be able to give testimony. 

“I understand the passion that exists on both sides,” Bray said, calling the abortion debate “the most difficult, polarizing issue that we’ve faced in a generation.”

“This is going to be a process. It’s going to be difficult for all of us,” he continued. “We’re trying to find a path forward, and this is the start of that.”

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Smith has had internships and fellowships at the Investigative Program in Berkeley, California, The Indianapolis Star, the Investigative Reporting Workshop in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post, National Geographic, USA Today and other publications. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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