The Indiana Senate on July 30 approved a proposal that seeks to ban most abortions in the state, a measure that was criticized by pro-abortion and pro-life supporters.
The bill was passed in a 26–20 vote during a special session of the GOP-controlled Senate after almost four hours of debate. Senate Bill 1 makes abortion in the state a Level 5 felony unless it’s required to prevent any substantial permanent impairment of the mother or if the pregnancy was the result of incest or rape and the fetus has a specified postfertilization age.
The pregnant woman, an individual who offers medical treatment in good faith to a pregnant woman that results in an accidental abortion, and a physician who performs the medical procedure for abortion at the request of a pregnant woman are all exempted from the crime of feticide.
“A person who terminates the pregnancy of a pregnant woman upon her request may only be charged with certain crimes,” the bill states.
In a July 21 statement, National Right to Life, a pro-life organization, had called SB1 a “weak and troubling bill” that fails “substantively” in several areas, including failing to offer any “meaningful” enforcement provisions.
“This bill goes through the motions on paper, but lacks any teeth to actually reduce abortions in Indiana by holding those who perform abortions or would intentionally skirt the law accountable with criminal consequences,” the group said.
The legislation bans abortion clinics from conducting surgical abortions. If a fetus is to be terminated because it’s incapable of life outside the womb, such abortions must be reported to the state health department.
The bill asks the maternal mortality review committee to study how changes in abortion laws will affect maternal mortality in the state.
Senate Bill 1 provides Indiana’s attorney general with concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute abortion-related crimes in a county if the prosecutor of that county refuses to prosecute such crimes.
Heated Abortion Debate
The debate over the Senate Bill 1 was heated, with Republican Senate President Suzanne Crouch threatening to clear the gallery on more than one occasion after outbursts from both sides. Outside the Senate, protestors were gathered and chanting against the bill.
Democratic state Senator Jean Breaux called the legislation a “flawed bill” that “strips a woman of her right to choose,” CNN reported. Whether to have a baby is a decision “that must be weighed by each woman, not made by politicians or Supreme Court justices,” she said.
Republican state Sen. Susan Glick, the sponsor of SB1, called the legislation a “vehicle bill.” Glick, who had earlier said that she wasn’t happy with the bill, expressed hope that the legislation will undergo changes in the GOP-led House, where the measure now heads for consideration.
However, she called the passing of the bill is a “huge step” in protecting the life of unborn children in the state, Fox News reported.
Indiana is the second state, after West Virginia, to convene a special session to consider abortion restrictions following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.