Indiana Senate to discuss, vote on abortion ban amendments

FILE - Indiana Statehouse
FILE - Indiana Statehouse(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 2:45 PM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - The Senate will convene for session Thursday afternoon for the second reading of the proposed abortion ban, along with two other bills.

Thursday afternoon, the Senate will have the second reading on S.B. 1, 2, and 3 in which senators can present, debate, and vote on bill amendments. The reading comes after S.B. 1, the proposed abortion ban, passed the Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures by a 7-5 vote following days of testimony from both anti-abortion and pro-choice advocates who opposed the bill.

The hearing was originally set to start at 1:30 p.m., but after several delays, Senate Republicans now say they plan to begin at 5 p.m. It is unclear whether or not the session will be delayed again.

BACKGROUND: Special Session for proposed abortion ban enters day two - Indiana Special Session Day 3: Abortion ban bill debate heats up

Dozens of amendments were up for consideration on Tuesday, largely from democrats who were looking to keep some abortion protections in place. However, none of those amendments received support. All filed amendments can be seen online at iga.in.gov. The bill did pass the senate committee with at least one amendment, which says rape and incest victims over the age of 16 cannot get an abortion after 8 weeks.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) took issue with that amendment.

“Under their changes, rape and incest exceptions are limited at 8 weeks over the age of 16—before a woman may even be aware that she’s pregnant,” Taylor said. “This amendment is needlessly cruel and excessively uncompassionate, and I’m disgusted that it was even introduced let alone passed. I hope the rest of my Republican colleagues are more receptive to Hoosier voices and to the voices of doctors and kill this bill before doing irreversible damage to our state.”

Senate Democrats held a press conference to address the proposed amendments Thursday afternoon. They said they will be offering over 30 amendments to the bill, all of which they claim would provide women support.

“Every one of the Senate Democratic amendments simply make sure women have robust emotional, financial and maternal support throughout pregnancy,” Taylor said. “That support will be critical to protect the life, well-being and health of women, especially since we know the supermajority’s policy will force women into dangerous, scary and potentially impossible situations. We have a duty to be proactive and try to load on as much front-end support as we can to reduce maternal fatalities and try to decrease some of the burdens women will be forced to carry.”

During the third day of the Special Session, Senate Democrats offered a minority report that draws attention to a couple of amendments that Democrats weren’t allowed to present in committee. One would allow access to abortion when the mother’s “physical health” was threatened by the pregnancy, as the bill’s current language says the mother’s life must be in danger.

Another amendment hints at a possible religious exemption to an abortion ban, WNDU reports. It states that if one’s religious beliefs hold that human life begins at a particular stage of fetal development, any statute that prohibits abortion before that stage burdens that person’s exercise of free religion.

SB 1 DETAILS

During a press conference on July 20, Senate Republicans introduced the details of Senate Bill 1. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) says proposed bill S.B. 1 seeks to ban abortions except when the life of the mother is at risk, rape, and incest.

“Being pro-life is not about criminalizing women, it’s about preserving the dignity of life and helping mothers bring happy, healthy babies into the world,” State Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) said.

However, the current language of S.B. 1 allows for criminal prosecution if a woman lies to obtain an abortion. The bill currently requires that pregnant individuals seeking an abortion for rape or incest must submit an affidavit “signed by the woman under penalties of perjury, attesting to the rape or incest.”

Sen. Glick said the bill does not include new penalties for doctors--the existing penalty that allows for a doctor’s license to be revoked if they perform an illegal abortion will remain in place.

She also says the bill does not impact access to IVF, or ending an ectopic pregnancy or a pregnancy where there is a fatal fetal anomaly. Sen. Glick also noted that this does not affect access to the morning after pill, known as Plan B, or any other method of birth control.

The bill was formally introduced at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 25, at the previously planned special session at the Indiana Statehouse. The Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures heard the first round of public testimony from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, with the second round of testimony held on Tuesday, July 26.

Vice President Kamala Harris landed in Indianapolis Monday, July 25, to meet with state legislators and leaders to discuss the proposed abortion bill. She led a reproductive rights roundtable at 11:30 a.m.

“An individual should be able to choose based on their personal beliefs and the dictates of their faith. But the government should not be telling an individual what to do, especially as it relates to one of the most intimate and personal decisions a woman could make,” Harris said during the roundtable.

OPPOSITION FROM BOTH SIDES

The ACLU of Indiana, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, Women4Change Indiana, and local group Women United For Progress Allen County (WUFPAC) held a rally opposing S.B. 1 at the statehouse on the first day of the special session. Thousands of protesters gathered for that rally to testify during public comment.

“It terrifies me. There are tons of people that need access to abortion care. As they restrict abortion, they’re restricting sex ed, they’re restricting access to reproductive health. And again they’re restricting access to that can be used for ectopic pregnancies. That is also absolutely essential for millions of Americans and women for health care issues,” Suzanne Barber, a protester from Lafayette, said.

Groups like Indiana Right to Life argued that the proposed bill does not go far enough in restricting abortions. The group planned a rally against the legislation on Tuesday, and hundreds of anti-abortion advocates gathered in the atrium of the statehouse to voice their concerns. The group is urging legislators to add more restrictions to the proposed abortion ban, which they say lacks provisions for enforcement mechanisms.

The special session must end no later than Aug. 14, 2022, per Indiana code. The Senate is expected to take a final vote on the bill(s) during Friday’s session.

Copyright 2022 Fort Wayne’s NBC. All rights reserved.

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