Indiana Could Become Next State To Ban Abortion As Legislature Convenes Special Session
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Topline

Indiana lawmakers convened a special session Monday to consider a near-total ban on abortion, which could make Indiana the first state to enact a new abortion ban in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade if the legislation succeeds.

Key Facts

The Indiana legislature will hold its special session for two weeks to take up bills on abortion, funding to help women and children and tax relief.

The abortion bill, Senate Bill 1, bans all abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is at risk, and would take effect on September 1.

Anyone who performs an abortion in violation of the law could be punished and lose their license, but the legislation stipulates the pregnant person cannot be prosecuted for getting an abortion.

The abortion bill will start moving forward in committee on Monday and will likely be voted on by the Republican-controlled Senate on Friday, before being taken up by the GOP-run House next week, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Lawmakers have said the legislation would not impact birth control or fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization, and would still allow for abortions in the case of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, though legal experts cited by NPR affiliate WFYI have said the law is somewhat vague when it comes to miscarriage treatment.

Vice President Kamala Harris joined Indiana Democratic legislators Monday for a roundtable discussion as the special session kicked off, saying the lawmakers opposing the Indiana ban are “by extension [standing] for the rights of women throughout our country.”

Big Number

More than 1,000. That’s the number of healthcare workers in Indiana who signed on to letters expressing concerns about the state enacting an abortion ban, writing that “it seems unreasonable to pass laws that force one group’s moral views on everyone; especially when experts agree it will put people at risk and increase an already high maternal mortality rate in the Hoosier state.”

Crucial Quote

“We are not here to criminalize women, we are here to support mothers and help them bring happy and healthy babies to term,” state Sen. Sue Glick (R) said in a statement about the legislation. Glick said lawmakers included exceptions for rape and incest because they “recognize there are heartbreaking cases where, because of violence committed against women and young girls, providing some additional exceptions is necessary.”

Chief Critic

Indiana state Sen. Jean Breaux (D) said during the White House’s roundtable Monday she was “extremely concerned for the lives of women” if the abortion ban passes, given the increased likelihood it will cause more pregnancy-related deaths and complications. “Lack of abortion in a state with an already abysmal maternal care system will kill women,” Breaux said. “What Republicans want to do by placing a very restrictive ban on abortion access will have a devastating effect on the lives of women.”

Tangent

Indiana’s abortion policies have garnered international headlines in recent weeks, after a 10-year-old rape victim traveled to the state to get an abortion after being denied one under Ohio’s six-week abortion ban. The child was able to receive an abortion in Indiana—and would still be allowed one if Senate Bill 1 passes, given its rape exemption—but Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) opened a state investigation into the doctor who performed the abortion anyway, suggesting without evidence she had not properly reported the abortion as required by state law. (The physician, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, did report the abortion, public records show, and has now taken steps toward suing Rokita for defamation.)

Key Background

More than a dozen states have already banned or will soon ban abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, declaring the landmark 1973 ruling “egregiously wrong.” Many states had trigger bans that automatically took effect when the court’s ruling came out or soon after, while others had laws from before Roe was decided on the books that went back into effect, or bans passed while abortion was still legal that courts had blocked. (Some of those laws have now been temporarily blocked in state court.) Senate Bill 1 would mark the first state-level ban to be passed after the Supreme Court’s ruling, but Indiana could be the first in a string of states to pass new restrictions. The pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute has predicted 26 states will ultimately ban abortion, identifying Florida, Montana and Nebraska as other states that didn’t ban abortion before the ruling but could enact new bans.

What To Watch For

More state legislatures to hold special sessions to pass new abortion bans. Republicans in Nebraska and South Carolina have already suggested they could convene special sessions focused on abortion, and Kansas legislators could call one if a ballot measure next week eliminates the right to an abortion under the state constitution. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) and South Dakota Gov. Kirsti Noem (R) have said they will not convene special sessions in the immediate future, however, even as Noem initially said she did plan to call one.

Further Reading

More than 1,000 health care workers are worried about Indiana’s proposed abortion law (WFYI)

What is in Indiana’s proposed abortion legislation? A legal expert has some answers (WFYI)

What to know about Indiana’s special session, abortion bill and how to participate (Indianapolis Star)

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