By Casey Smith
Indiana Capital Chronicle
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers narrowly voted Saturday, July 30 to advance a Republican-backed bill this would ban virtually all abortions in the state.
Senators debated the bill for more than three hours before voting 26-20 on the bill during a special legislative session. It was the lowest number of votes needed to advance the bill to the chamber of the House, where it will be debated next week.
“I’m glad to see we’ve come to this point,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, who noted that her legislation would put an end to about 98% of all abortions in Indiana. “This is a problem that has plagued us for many years…and it’s not going away. I think it’s important that we keep an open mind and that ideas flow.
Indiana may be the first state to approve new legislation restricting abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court decided last month to overturn Roe v. Wade. On Friday, West Virginia lawmakers refused to pass their bill banning the procedure.
Glick, along with Senate Speaker Pro Tem Rodric Bray, said they expect the House to make changes to the invoice. What these changes might be is still unclear.
Still, Glick said she would not support any version of the bill that could pass the House.
“I can’t open abortion on demand – walk in and say, ‘I want an abortion for any reason, any time during pregnancy. That’s not where I am personally,” Glick said. “If it’s in the bill, I wouldn’t wear it.”
Glick said she had a “deep feeling” lawmakers needed to approve more wraparound services. She also worries that the current bill will “interfere” with doctor-patient relationships, which she hopes will be addressed in the House.
The Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) raised the same concern, saying in a statement Friday that the legislature is “creating an atmosphere that is perceived by many physicians as antagonistic toward their profession.”
“Indiana cannot have an effective health care system if physicians’ training and expertise are not respected and they are constantly threatened with political interference to practice medicine and help their patients,” said Julie Reed, Executive Vice President of ISMA.
Democrats push back, but Republicans are mostly silent
Hundreds of abortion-rights supporters gathered in the halls of the Statehouse on Saturday, cheering and cheering as senators from the minority caucus claimed the bill was a form of government abuse that violated the rights of women to access “basic” health care. The cheers turned to boos, chants and shouts during the Republicans’ remarks.
“You said this was not a forced pregnancy bill, and I’m here to tell you that it is,” said Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. He pointed out that the bill would “force” some women to stay pregnant, which he said would lead to “more clandestine abortions.”
Sharing her own story, Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, said she went to Planned Parenthood three times during her pregnancy, considering an abortion. She chose not to have an abortion, but said she needed the 20 weeks allowed by current law to make that decision. The bill takes that choice away from other women.
The exception for rape and incest – which sets an 8-week limit on abortion for people aged 16 or over – is “nothing”, she added.
“This bill will bring terror and despair to thousands of women,” Yoder said. “This bill is cruel, invasive, mired in hypocrisy, a serious misunderstanding of science and medical expertise.”
Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, added that Democrats “tried to improve on a bad bill” with various amendments, though nearly all of them were struck down.
“This is big legislation that can harm women, children and families,” she said. “The global trend is towards the liberalization of restrictions on abortion. But Indiana is backtracking.
In his impassioned remarks, Sen. Faddy Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, said he refused “to play God.” He called on the General Assembly to invest in health care and education instead.
“We are rushing into a political process at the expense of women,” he said.
Few senators from the GOP supermajority have spoken out on the bill. Everyone who approached the microphone opposed the measure, although the bill’s supporter, Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, stood up to question several Democrats about their positions. A handful of Republicans also made brief remarks in support of the bill during the vote.
Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, who recently resigned of the Republican caucus amid disagreements over the GOP’s approach to abortion-restricting legislation, was one of 10 Republicans who voted against the measure.
He said he disagreed with the bill’s requirement that women must submit a notarized affidavit to their doctor for access to an abortion in cases of rape or incest. He also took issue with the language that allows the procedure to preserve the mother’s health rather than just life.
Young’s controversial amendment to remove rape and incest exceptions failed earlier this week. This was after a hours-long debate that saw Republican senators emotional and divided over the scope of the proposed abortion ban.
But Kyle Walker, R-Lawerence, said he was in the “grey area” between the two poles of the problem. Favoring some restrictions, Walker said it should be possible to craft a more balanced bill.
“I believe in a balanced approach to this policy,” he said, saying women should be allowed to “make their own decisions” at least in the first trimester. He also supports exceptions for “both the health and life of the mother”, as well as “reasonable exceptions” for rape and incest.
Vaneta Becker, a Republican from Evansville, said she opposes the abortion ban because “it violates all of my Republican principles.”
“The purpose of government is to help its people live in security and happiness… Does this bill reflect limited governmental or fiscal responsibility?” she says. “Most of our constituents overwhelmingly oppose this bill.”
Bill goes to the House, but do the Hoosiers want the ban?
Republican House Speaker Todd Huston said Friday he had not yet considered the bill. He told reporters he would address the proposal next week, but said he supported exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother in an abortion ban.
“We’ll have that conversation,” Huston said. “Obviously I support these exceptions and will have this conversation with the caucus.”
On Saturday, Glick recognized for the first time a highly monitored poll led by the House and Senate GOP campaign committees. Several GOP insiders who spoke to the Indiana Capital Chronicle said the poll indicates Hoosiers does not want a near-virtual ban on abortion.
Instead, Indiana residents support exceptions for rape, incest, and maternal life. And many are in favor of allowing abortion up to 15 weeks gestation.
Glick claimed on Saturday that the poll “is one of many” reviewed by GOP lawmakers in recent months.
“I think we sometimes grab (polls) that are in line with where we want to go. And then we disregard others,” Glick said. “I think there are big differences of opinion – and that goes to people on the street, to people in this building.”
Huston, however, did not acknowledge the existence of the poll on Friday.
“We come here as representatives of our districts and people who have strong opinions … wherever we land is what our caucus considers good public policy for Indiana,” he said. declared. “I and everyone else have always been clear on our positions on this. We had elections with clear views on this…we will have elections in the future.
Ten Republican senators and 10 Democratic senators voted against the bill. The GOP lawmakers were:
- Senator Ron Alting, Lafayette
- Senator Eric Bassler, Washington
- Senator Vaneta Becker, Evansville
- Senator Jim Buck, Kokomo
- Senator Mike Gaskill, Pendleton
- Sen. Dennis Kruse, Auburn
- Senator Mark Messmer, Jasper
- Sen Jim Tomes, Wadesville
- Senator Kyle Walker, Lawrence
- Senator Mike Young, Indianapolis
Four senators were not present for the vote:
- Senator Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville
- Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis
- Senator Chip Perfect, R-Lawrenceburg
- Senator Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago
The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to providing Hoosiers with comprehensive insight into state government, politics and elections.
See original story posted here.