Vice President Kamala Harris speaks on abortion rights during a visit to Indiana. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Vice President Kamala Harris condemned Indiana Republicans’ near-total abortion ban proposal in her high-profile visit to Indianapolis Monday — the first real day of a special legislative session aimed partially at further restricting abortion.
“The government should not be telling an individual what to do, especially as it relates to one of the most intimate and personal decisions a woman could make,” Harris said, speaking from the Indiana State Library next to the Statehouse.
“The president and I take seriously our work that is about protecting the health, the safety and the well-being of the women of America, and that includes the women of Indiana,” she said later. “And that is why I’m here.”
Republican-led Indiana is the first state in the country to call a special session to address abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in late June. Some other red states had trigger laws on the books.
This is the beginning of a process that, if successful, will have deadly outcomes for pregnant women in the state of Indiana.
– Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis
The legislation swaps Indiana’s current 20-week gestational limit on abortions for a ban on abortion at all stages of development — from implantation to birth. It instead details limited exceptions for cases of rape, incest, maternal health and fatal fetal abnormalities. All of those provisions could change in amendments.
“The idea that in some states, after … a woman or a child would have endured such an act of violence and then to suggest that she would not have the autonomy and authority to make a decision about what happens to her body is outrageous,” Harris said, referring to the headline-making case of a 10-year-old rape survivor who traveled from Ohio to Indiana to obtain a legal abortion.
She and five Indiana lawmakers spoke during a brief news conference, ahead of a private roundtable discussion with more than 35 Indiana abortion-rights legislators and advocates.
“We were scheduled to be here to provide economic relief for struggling Hoosiers. But the supermajority has taken this as an opportunity to erode away human rights by stripping away a portion of public health care,” said Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis. “This is the beginning of a process that, if successful, will have deadly outcomes for pregnant women in the state of Indiana.”
Anti-abortion Republicans reacted angrily to Harris’ visit.
“Vice President Kamala Harris is radically out of step with Hoosiers’ common-sense views when it comes to offering basic protections for unborn humans and women’s health and safety,” said state Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne.
Brown cited Harris’ votes against legislation for infants who survive bungled abortions, a 20-week abortion ban and a taxpayer funding ban for abortion providers.
“In great contrast, my pro-life colleagues and I want Indiana to be a safe place for unborn children and a place that supports women and families through pregnancy and parenting,” Brown continued. “As abortion advocates rally, I will be meeting with my fellow elected officials and working towards the strongest pro-life legislative package possible that we can pass this special session.”
Brown and Indiana GOP Chair Kyle Hupfer knocked Indiana Democrats for inviting the vice president.
“If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past 19 months, it’s that we certainly don’t need any of Washington, D.C. in Indiana,” Hupfer said in a statement Sunday. “… Her political stunt [Monday] marks a low point for the Indiana Democrat[ic] Party, which is just as unpopular as she is.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on SB 1 Friday. The House is expected to take it up the week after.
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