Indiana Legislature Calls Special Session To Consider Abortion Ban

A select committee of the Indiana General Assembly met for more than four hours on Monday to discuss Senate Bill 1, which would ban abortion unless the procedure is necessary to prevent “tampering with substantial permanence” of the mother’s life. Republicans control the state legislature.

The GOP-drafted bill would also ban abortion clinics from performing surgical abortions and require the in-person dispensation of an abortion-inducing drug used in a medical abortion. It would include exceptions in cases of rape or incest provided the pregnant person provides the doctor with an affidavit attesting to the rape or incest.

The meeting of the State Senate’s Legislative Rules and Procedure Committee sparked an extensive public debate, with dozens of people, from doctors to religious leaders to private citizens, voicing their opinions on the bill. of law. While some opposed the legislation for the limits it imposes on abortion, others objected to what they described as vague language and the exceptions proposed in the measure.

Although many states across the country are reviewing their laws in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court ruling, particular attention has been given to Indiana after a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio crossed state lines to get an abortion. Indiana currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization (or 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period).
And last week, the Supreme Court paved the way for Indiana to try to implement a law restricting access to abortion for minors that had been blocked by lower courts.
State Senate Republican leaders said they hope to have a final vote on SB1 by Friday to send it to the State House for consideration. If passed, the bill will come into force on September 1.

Speaking before the committee on Monday, several speakers invoked their faith and one woman voiced her opposition to the bill, citing her fertility battle.

Ariel Ream called the bill “odious”, saying it would likely impact her ability to have a baby as she is at very high risk of stillbirth or miscarriage.

“Who decides when my life is really in danger? Who decides when fetal abnormalities are lethal enough?” Ram asked. “When is the line good enough and how many women die before it’s drawn?”

Pediatrician Dr. Mary Ott told lawmakers she opposed the bill because “access to safe and legal abortion is an essential component of … reproductive health care.”

“The abortion ban poses a threat to the health and well-being of Indiana’s youth, impacting physical, mental, educational, and economic outcomes, including adolescent maternal mortality. higher,” Ott said, adding that the proposed legislation politicizes what should be a private decision. and will worsen health disparities among people of color.

Meanwhile, state senate candidate Dr. Tyler Johnson said he supports the intent of the bill, but argued it could be manipulated as written due to what he called “vague” wording.

“I ask that we remove or refine the language of the exemption, protect all unborn children, and impose appropriate criminal penalties for willfully and needlessly killing an unborn child,” he said.

While Indiana is the only state so far to hold a special session to consider restrictive abortion legislation following the Supreme Court’s ruling, a few other states are planning or have opened the door to a possible return. for a special legislative session. New York and Wisconsin have already held special sessions that had abortion legislation on the agenda.

Democratic orientation

Abortion rights have become a focal point among Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections in November.
Vice President Kamala Harris held a roundtable with Indianapolis state lawmakers on Monday, telling them that the court’s decision “took away a constitutional right that had been recognized as the American people – American women” and stressing how the court’s decision might jeopardize other established rights.

The vice president did not respond to questions from the press about whether she would support President Joe Biden declaring a national or public health emergency on the issue, which members of Congress and reproductive rights organizations have continued to claim, but Biden has yet to move to do so.

The trip marked the latest in a series of stops by Harris across the country focused on reproductive rights following the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the federal abortion law.

During a meeting with lawmakers in Richmond, Va., on Saturday, Harris pledged the Biden administration’s support for protecting abortion rights while also slamming Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin for pledging to sign anti-abortion legislation.

“The Governor of Virginia, I have read, says he will ‘joyfully’ quote signing legislation to take away reproductive rights. So I would also like to be clear that I am fully aware of the context in which we find ourselves. meet, in terms of what it will mean for the people of Virginia,” Harris told a group of state delegates on Saturday. “And what is the direct stake in this state, in terms of their rights, and their rights in particular with respect to a governor who is apparently prepared to restrict and even ban abortion on the basis of an interpretation of the words he spoke.”

Elsewhere, Kansas will allow voters to consider the issue on August 2 in its primary election, making it the first state to vote on a constitutional amendment related to abortion, which is currently legal until 20 weeks later. fertilization (or 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period). It is also one of several states that people from Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri travel to for abortion services.

This headline and story were updated with additional details on Monday.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Rebekah Riess and Devan Cole contributed to this report.

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