INDIANAPOLIS — For almost four hours Monday, Hoosiers voiced their opinions on a new proposed abortion ban that Indiana lawmakers will consider during a special session that started today.
A state senate committee held a hearing on the Republican proposed bill, as protestors and rallies on both sides of the issue were held at the statehouse.
“We want everybody to have their opportunity to be heard,” said Republican State Senator Rodric Bray.
Indiana’s debate over abortion, even brought Vice President Kamala Harris to Indianapolis today. She met with state democratic lawmakers to discuss abortion access and the proposed ban being considered.
The proposed bill would ban all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and “permanent substantial impairment” to the mother’s health.
State senators say the rape and incest exception would require an affidavit. Criminal charges would not be required. Under the proposal, surgical abortions could not be performed by abortion clinics, rather they could only be performed in licensed hospitals or ambulatory outpatient surgical centers, except for medical emergencies.
Senate Republicans say the legislation would not affect access to the morning after pill or any other method of birth control.
Under the bill, women would not face criminal charges for receiving abortions. Doctors who perform an illegal abortion could be at risk for losing their license.
Despite the exceptions listed in the proposed bill, pro abortion rights activists said it goes too far. Among the many who spoke at the hearing were several doctors that testified in favor of ensuring abortion access.
“This is an issue of both health and justice. Bans on abortion pose a threat to the health and well-being of Indiana youth,” said Dr. Mary Ott, a pediatrician representing the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Among the concerns raised were those about maternal mortality and the impact a ban could have on women of color and low-income Hoosiers.
“Unfortunately those are the very same mothers that are all too often on our maternal mortality case review list,” said Dr. Mary Abernathy, who is with the Indiana Chapter of the American College of OBGYN.
However, anti-abortion rights activists told Indiana lawmakers that the exceptions in the proposed bill were unacceptable. They instead want to see a total ban on abortion.
“We cannot allow individual doctors to create abortion policy on a case-by-case basis,” said Amy Rainey.
“For us to come in and begin to regulate when is it ok and when is it not, it’s still wrong. We have to protect life,” said Thomas Moore.
The bill’s author acknowledged the bill may have issues that will be addressed during the approval process.
“One of the criticisms of the bill has been the lack of criminal penalties. And so I think you’re going to see amendments in regard to that,” said Republican State Senator Sue Glick who authored the bill.
Tomorrow there will be more public comment on the bill, before Indiana lawmakers begin making amendments and voting on it.
Should the committee approve the bill, it will then advance to the full state senate for a vote.
The proposal will need approval both in the senate and house before reaching the governor’s office, leaving quite a bit of time for possible changes and amendments to the bill.