In a special session Saturday, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 1, which bans abortions from the moment of conception. The bill classifies abortion as a felony, although it makes exceptions for rape and incest, and to protect the life of the mother. The bill also empowers the state attorney general to prosecute abortion cases at a county level if a county prosecutor categorically refuses to prosecute abortions. The bill narrowly passed the Senate, 26-20.
The bill prohibits all abortions, with few exceptions. First, an abortion is legal if “[t]he physician determines, based on reasonable medical judgment, that an abortion is necessary to prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life of the pregnant woman.”
If a pregnant woman is less than 16 years old, an abortion is legal if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, and the gestational age of the unborn child is less than 12 weeks. If a pregnant woman is at least 16, an abortion is legal if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, and if the unborn child is less than eight weeks old. In both cases, the pregnant woman must provide the physician “with a notarized affidavit, signed by the woman under penalties of perjury, attesting to the rape or incest. The physician shall place the affidavit in the woman’s permanent health record,” the bill states.
The bill also provides an exception in cases “where the fetus suffers from an irremediable medical condition that is incompatible with sustained life outside the womb, regardless of when the child is born.”
For abortions covered under these exceptions, an abortion is only lawful if it is performed by a licensed doctor, at a hospital or a surgical center; if the abortion is performed by an abortifacient drug, the patient must take the drug in the presence of the physician, who must perform an exam and inform the patient about the drug. The woman must consent to the abortion, unless the abortion is for the life of the mother.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 26-20; 26 Republicans voted for the bill, while 10 Republicans joined Democrats voting against it. According to the Indianapolis Star, opposition to the bill was split: moderates voted against the bill because they thought it went too far; more conservative senators voted against the bill because it did not go far enough.
State Senator Sue Glick, who authored the bill in the Senate, praised its passage Saturday. “The passage of Senate Bill 1 is a huge step forward in protecting the life of the unborn children in our state,” Glick said in a statement. “We have put together a bill that would not criminalize women and would protect the unborn whose voices have been silenced for the past 50 years under Roe v Wade. Now, we understand this may not be the final version of the bill, and we are only through the first half of its long journey to becoming law, but we have put together a pro-life framework that, in my opinion, is fair and just.”
Indiana is one of the first states to debate tightening abortion restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the issue of abortion to the states in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Justice Sam Alito wrote in the majority opinion.