Indiana Republicans narrowly advance plan to ban nearly all abortions in the state – NBC Chicago

On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers in Indiana narrowly advanced a plan to ban nearly all abortions in the state, despite opposition from abortion rights supporters, who say the bill goes too far. , and anti-abortion activists, who say it doesn’t go far enough.

Indiana has one of the first Republican-led state legislatures to debate tougher abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down Roe v. Wade. His debate comes amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country, as Republicans grapple with some party splits and Democrats see a possible election-year boost.

The United States Supreme Court officially released its judgment Tuesday in Dobbs v. Jackson of June 24 – a step that allows certain state laws to trigger the ban on abortion.

In Indiana, chants from anti-abortion activists, such as “Let their hearts beat,” could be heard inside the Senate chamber as a committee wrapped up two days of testimony in which none of the more than 60 people expressed support for the Republican. Indiana Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, held a rally that drew several hundred protesters to the Statehouse, and group chairman Mike Fichter warned conservative lawmakers must act or explain themselves to voters. in November.

A national poll this month found that overwhelming majorities think their state should generally allow abortion in specific cases, including if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Few people think abortion should always be illegal, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

The Indiana measure would ban abortions from the time a fertilized egg implants in a uterus with limited exceptions — in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. Abortion-rights supporters oppose the bill’s tougher restrictions on procedure, while abortion opponents say it’s too lenient with its exceptions and lacks the means to application.

A leading Republican in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer, voted against the measure, lamenting the “almost impossibility of threading the perfect needle” on the issue during a short special legislative session that GOP Governor Eric Holcomb had originally convened to discuss a tax refund plan. . He did not say whether he supported the abortion ban in question.

In West Virginia, the Republican-dominated legislature rejected for the second time in two days Democrats’ efforts to add exceptions for victims of rape and incest to a bill banning abortion in nearly every state. case. This would make performing the procedure a felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison.

Indiana’s proposal follows a political storm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to terminate a pregnancy. The case drew attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child had to come to Indiana because a new Ohio law banned abortions if heart activity could be detected in an embryo. or a fetus, perhaps as early as six weeks pregnant.

Such abortions would still be allowed under Indiana’s proposal, though lawmakers voted on Tuesday to limit the lifespans of rape and incest victims. People 16 or older could have an abortion up to eight weeks pregnant, while people under 16 would have up to 12 weeks.

The committee voted 7-5 in favor of the ban after also adding provisions under which doctors could face criminal charges and up to six years in prison for performing an illegal abortion. It’s the same potential penalty for performing abortions under Indiana’s current 20-week ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which continued previous abortion restrictions, said the ban would put women at risk.

“Indiana lawmakers are putting the health and safety of Hoosier women at risk and resubmitting to the demands of a small group of anti-abortion extremists,” said Katie Blair, the organization’s advocacy director. .

Cathie Humbarger, a longtime leader of the Fort Wayne-based Right to Life chapter, also opposes the bill — for very different reasons.

“It is totally unenforceable and as such renders it fundamentally worthless,” Humbarger told the committee. “You can and should do better.”

Other amendments to the bill could be debated by the full Senate on Thursday.

Indiana Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said lawmakers were struggling to address issues they hadn’t faced before Roe v. Wade.

“We’re working hard to try to find a way forward, listening to everyone,” Bray said.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, a South Carolina judge denied a request to temporarily block enforcement of the state’s six-week abortion ban. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and other plaintiffs had asked the judge for an injunction while the courts determine whether the law violates the state constitution.

And in Louisiana, a judge denied a request from state officials to lift his order blocking a ban while they pursue an appeal. This means that abortions remain accessible in this state.


Arleigh Rodgers is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Rodgers on Twitter at

NBC Chicago

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