After a contentious debate that pitted Indiana Senate Republicans against Republicans — a rare event — the Senate rejected a measure Thursday night that would have removed the rape and incest exceptions in the proposed abortion ban.
After four and a half hours of debate on the amendment replete with religious references, the Senate voted to retain the rape and incest exceptions in the bill by a vote of 28 to 18. Republicans were equally divided on the measure, with 18 Republicans voting to further limit abortions and 18 voting against.
The split vote showed that even in a state where Republicans have a supermajority in both houses and control all aspects of government, how far restricting access to abortions in the absence of the Roe vs. Wade protections is not always clear.
If the amendment had passed, the only exception to Indiana’s near-total abortion ban would be to protect the life of the pregnant person.
Republican Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, moved the amendment because he said he didn’t think the bill went far enough as originally proposed.
“When we have exceptions, it equals death,” Young told the Senate. “We have the ability and the responsibility to protect people who can’t talk to us. That’s our job.”
Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, was among those who backed him up saying “two wrongs never make a right.”
But not all his colleagues agreed. Several Republicans have spoken out against the measure.
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Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, said if his 29-year-old daughter was raped, he would want her to be able to make the decision whether or not to keep the child.
“That’s not being liberal,” Alting said. “I think it’s just trying to be a good dad and understanding the reality of today’s sick world that we live in.”
Similarly, Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, argued that allowing exceptions for rape and incest might actually prevent abortions because pregnant women would feel comfortable seeking advice from others. others, including anti-abortion groups, who might encourage them not to just go out of state to get an abortion.
“I believe in my heart that we can save more unborn children so they can live with the exception rather than without,” Walker said, adding that he was responding to a “higher power” to the audience.
In his closing statement, Young said keeping too many exceptions in the bill and not making it illegal to abort a fetus was similar to the compromise the Founding Fathers made to count slaves. like three/fifths of a person. He also argued that maintaining an exception for incest essentially tells those who are wrongfully in an incestuous relationship that they can continue to do wrong and still be able to obtain an abortion, while those who are in a non-incestuous relationship cannot.
“What you’re saying is if it’s incest, kill your baby,” Young said. “If you’re married or in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, you can’t do it if your baby has a defect, but we’ll give it to someone who broke the law. It’s not right.”
The vote was in line with public opinion: according to the 2019 Old National Bank and Ball State University Hoosier survey, only 17% of respondents think abortion should be illegal in all cases. Sen Gaskill, R-Pendleton, acknowledged that his vote to remove rape exceptions from the bill may not have been politically popular, but he said, “I love Jesus more than I love being in the Senate. .”
In yet another demonstration of just how messy and controversial the issue of abortion can be, senators tabled more than 60 amendments to the bill on Thursday. — including dozens of Republicanss. The start of the session was delayed by three hours as Republicans discussed those amendments in caucus. In total, the Senate spent more than seven hours debating all the amendments, ending their discussion after midnight.
The amendments Republicans tabled ran the gamut, from one that would eliminate any rape and incest exception, to one that would allow doctors to offer abortions for up to 20 weeks for those seeking a rape or incest exception.
The Senate also closed this latest amendment, with a vote of 17 to 29, meaning the rape and incest exceptions are still limited to 12 weeks after fertilization for those 15 and younger and eight weeks after pregnancy. fertilization, for those 16 and over.
Among the amendments the Senate passed was one requiring that the signed affidavit, required to claim the rape or incest exception, be notarized. The amendment barely passed with a 24-23 vote after Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch broke the tie by voting for the measure, a rare occurrence.
The division among Republicans was evident even before the vote as Young walked around the chamber as his fellow Republicans huddled in caucus. As the Indiana Capital Chronicle first reported, Young is not currently discussing with Republicans concerns about the legislative leadership’s approach to its handling of the abortion bill.
“We’re all on the same page,” Young joked with reporters about his one-person caucus.
At times this week, the fate of any abortion bill has looked difficult. Earlier this week, the bill’s author, Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, issued a warning to anti-abortion groups and lawmakers: If Republicans can’t reach agreement on a bill adequate, they won’t pass anything until January with lawmakers convened for the regular special session.
“We want to get the right outcome, and if we can’t get the right outcome, there’s a law in Indiana that we’re going to live with until it changes in the future,” Glick said. .
Because the Indiana Senate did not finish voting on the amendments by midnight, Senate rules prevent the chamber from voting on the bill Friday as originally scheduled. Instead, the chamber will vote on Saturday. The bill will then move to the House side.
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270 or email her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.