Indiana Senate narrowly passes near-total abortion ban

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana state senators narrowly passed a near-total abortion ban on Saturday in a rare weekend session, sending the bill to the House after a week controversy of arguments about whether to allow exceptions for rape and incest.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 26-20 after about three hours of debate, passing it with the minimum 26 votes needed to send it to the House.

The bill would ban abortions once a fertilized egg implants in a uterus. Exceptions would be allowed for rape and incest, but a patient wishing to abort for either reason would have to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to the assault.

Indiana is one of the first Republican-controlled states to debate tougher abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned precedent establishing a national abortion right. But the GOP split after the rape and incest exceptions remained in the bill, and 10 Republican senators voted against the legislation.

Abortion rights supporters said before the vote that the bill went too far. Dr. Roberto Darroca, one of many doctors who testified against it, argued for an exception to preserve the mother’s health.

“Decisions have to be made quickly. Having to wait for a lawyer would freeze that decision-making process,” Darroca said. “Can you imagine the dilemma the doctor faces? The freedom of the doctor versus the life of the patient and the child?

Abortion opponents said it didn’t go far enough.

Mark Hosbein was among a large crowd at the Statehouse on Tuesday. For the second consecutive day of the extraordinary legislative session, cheers and cries from demonstrators could be heard during committee hearings in the chambers of the Senate. Hosbein, of Indianapolis, said he supports abortion without exception, even to protect the life of the mother.

“It’s wrong to try to kill the mother to save the baby, and it’s wrong to try to kill the baby to save the mother,” he said. “There are all kinds of limits and restrictions and everything that’s going on here. But I’m here hoping to stop all of that.”

A national poll this month found that an overwhelming majority of Americans think their state should generally allow abortion in specific cases, including if a woman’s life is in danger or 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.

Thursday night’s Senate vote on the amendment that would have removed the rape and incest exceptions failed 28-18, with 18 Republicans and 10 Democrats joining to retain the exceptions.

Some of the Republicans who did not want exceptions will have to support the bill to pass from the Senate to the GOP-controlled House.

Nicole Erwin, of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Indiana, said Friday she expects a move through the Senate, followed by House lawmakers passing an outright ban.

“They’ve been waiting for this moment for far too long,” Erwin said in a statement. “We have seen time and time again that we can only expect the worst, which means adopting an outright ban on abortion.”

Anti-abortion groups have sought to ratchet up the pressure on conservative lawmakers.

If they don’t pass legislation in the three-week session, “they have to explain to voters why they haven’t done anything in Indiana to fix this problem,” Indiana President Mike Fichter said. Right to Life, at the beginning of the week. .

Republican House Speaker Todd Huston declined to comment on the content of the Senate bill, but said he supported the rape and incest exceptions.

“I kind of figured we’ll get into all of this next week,” he said.


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 her on Twitter at


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