With the passage of a near-total abortion ban Friday night, Indiana became the first state to pass an abortion restriction after Roe v. Wade, which protected the federal right to abortion, was overturned. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 1, which is set to go into effect September 15, shortly after it passed the Senate.
Indiana will join nine other states that have abortion bans starting at conception, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The law has narrow exceptions, including ones for rape and incest that were barely kept intact as the House and Senate bargained over amendments. The legislation makes exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies and when the life of the pregnant person is in danger. For now, abortion is legal up to 22 weeks in Indiana.
The House voted 62-38 to pass an amended version of the bill Friday, with nine Republicans voting against the bill. The Senate passed it 28-19 Friday evening, with 10 days remaining in a special session that was convened, in part, to pass abortion restrictions after Roe’s reversal.
The bill split Republican lawmakers as it went through various amendments. Some wanted more restrictive legislation while others felt the ban went too far in preventing access to abortion. Before the full House vote on Friday, Republican Rep. Wendy McNamara, a sponsor of the bill, called on her colleagues to vote yes: “We’ve heard from all sides — a lot of what ifs, many sides, opinions, views and beliefs. But ultimately, this bill provides protections for the unborn. It provides support to Hoosier families, especially moms and babies.”
Over the course of two weeks of the special session, nearly 200 members of the public testified in front of both House and Senate members. Legislators heard from students, religious leaders, medical professionals, advocates, parents and legal experts — the majority of whom did not favor the bill, though opinions were divided on whether the bill went far enough or not far enough.
The high-profile story of a 10-year-old girl who was raped in Ohio, where abortion is banned after six weeks, and traveled to Indiana to terminate the subsequent pregnancy loomed large over the proceedings with legislators repeatedly referring to her story. Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the OB/GYN who performed the abortion in Indianapolis, now faces an investigation from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, has said it does not believe Bernard broke any privacy laws and filed correct documentation.
The Senate and the House considered dozens of amendments, including the one that split Republicans’ votes and would have removed rape and incest exceptions to the ban. A recent survey found that most Hoosiers opposed abortion after six weeks and the majority supported abortions in cases of rape and to save the life of the pregnant person.