Indiana became the first US state to pass a new law restricting access to abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The ban, which takes effect September 12, includes some exceptions. Abortion will be allowed in cases of rape and incest up to 10 weeks after fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if the fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.
Victims of rape and incest will not be required to sign notarized affidavits confirming assault, as previously proposed in the Senate.
Under the bill, abortions can only be performed in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals, meaning that all abortion clinics will lose their license. A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file required reports must also have their medical license revoked, language that toughens current Indiana law that a doctor “can” lose his license.
“I am personally most proud of every Hooser who has boldly shared their views in a debate that is unlikely to end anytime soon,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement saying he signed the measure.
“For my part, as your governor, I will continue to keep my eyes open.”
His approval came after the Indiana Senate approved the ban 28–19 and members of the House of Representatives advanced it 62–38.
Indiana was one of the first Republican-led state legislatures to debate tougher abortion laws following a June Supreme Court ruling that struck down the procedure’s constitutional protection. But it is the first state to pass a bicameral ban since West Virginia lawmakers squandered the chance to become that state on July 29.
“Glad to wrap this up, one of the hardest things we’ve ever done as a state general assembly, at least definitely while I’ve been here,” Pro-Tem Senate President Rodrik Bray told reporters after the vote.
“I think this is a huge opportunity and we will build on it as we move forward.”
Some senators from both parties have lamented the provisions of the bill and its impact on the state, including low-income women and the healthcare system. Eight Republicans joined all 11 Democrats in voting against the bill, although their reasons for blocking the measure were mixed.
“We’re retreating from democracy,” said Indianapolis Democratic Senator Jean Brough, who wore a green ribbon around her lapel on Friday in support of abortion rights.
“What other freedoms, what other freedoms lie on the block, waiting to be taken away?”
Republican Senator Mike Bohachek of Michiana Shores spoke about his 21-year-old daughter who has Down Syndrome. Mr. Bohacek voted against the bill, saying it does not provide adequate protection for disabled women who have been raped.
“If she lost her favorite soft toy, she would be inconsolable. Imagine her forcing her to carry the baby to term,” he said before he began to choke, then tossed his notes on the seat and left the room.
However, Republican Senator Mike Young of Indianapolis said the physician enforcement provisions of the bill were not strong enough.
Such debates have demonstrated Indiana’s own divisions on the issue, demonstrated in hours of legislators’ testimony heard over the past two weeks.
Residents on all sides of the issue rarely, if ever, supported the law, as abortion rights supporters said the bill went too far, while anti-abortion activists said it wasn’t enough.
The debate took place amid the changing landscape of abortion policy across the country, as Republicans face some partisan divisions and Democrats see a possible upswing in an election year.