Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill Friday banning abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with few exceptions.
The measure was passed by the State House on Friday afternoon by 62-38 votes, with nine Republicans voting against. Late Friday night, the Senate followed suit with 28-19 votes.
It now goes to the office of Republican administration Eric Holcomb, who has not yet indicated whether he will sign it, although he has said he is “pro-life”. If he does, it will come into effect on September 15. But even if he decides to veto, the legislation could still become law if lawmakers in both chambers overrule him by majority vote.
“We have an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life, and that is exactly what we will do,” Holcomb tweeted after the US Supreme Court overturned federal protections for abortion rights in June.
The state is the first in the country to pass new anti-abortion laws since the Supreme Court ruling. The state building is filled with protesters as lawmakers debated the special session.
Indiana has seven abortion clinics serving about 1.3 million women of childbearing age in the state—although, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many more people seeking abortions have come to the state from elsewhere.
Indiana recently made national headlines when a 10-year-old girl in Ohio traveled to the state to request an abortion. She was repeatedly raped and became pregnant. But she couldn’t get an abortion in her own state because Ohio—like several other states—immediately enacted restrictive laws banning most abortions.
Indiana’s bill allows abortions in rape and incest cases, which were included over objections from some Republican lawmakers.
But the fact that those exceptions exist should not make the bill any less extreme.
While abortions resulting from rape and incest are often among the most tragic of circumstances, they make up a very small percentage of total abortions. Focusing on these two categories can provide coverage for states that do have prohibitions with these exceptions.
And even when these exceptions exist, it is often incredibly difficult for pregnant people to meet the standards required to qualify.
The Indiana legislature’s swift approval of this near-total abortion ban comes just after voters in the conservative state of Kansas firmly rejected an amendment that would have removed protections for abortion access from the state constitution.
“The extremist lawmakers who forced this bill through a special session clearly don’t care what their voters want or need,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju. “It is appalling that they would go so far as to prevent people from accessing abortion care, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Governor Holcomb has the opportunity to veto this legislation and protect the reproductive freedom of millions of Hoosiers – he should take it.”