Not long after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion, Indiana Republicans began working behind the scenes to craft legislation to restrict access to the medical procedure.
While some Republican-controlled states had “trigger laws” that banned most abortions once the high court reached that decision, Indiana did not.
So Republican lawmakers decided to use a special session called by Gov. Eric Holcomb to consider abortion restrictions in addition to Holcomb’s inflation relief package.
But not all Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature could agree on just how restrictive the law should be, leading to a rift between religious conservatives and more moderate members of the caucus.
After weeks of speculation, Senate Republicans unveiled a proposal that would ban all abortions except in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. The bill was quickly derided by both abortion-rights activists and anti-abortion groups, with the former arguing it was too restrictive and the latter saying it didn’t go far enough to criminalize the women who would seek the procedure and the doctors who would perform them.
What followed was several weeks of passionate debate on the Senate floor. Ultimately, Republican lawmakers on Aug. 5 passed Senate Bill 1, which outlaws all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly or serious health risk to the mother. Holcomb signed the bill into law later that evening, making Indiana the first state to take up abortion restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The near-total abortion ban, which initially went into effect on Sept. 15, has since been put on hold after the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of health care providers and a pregnancy resource center.
The Indiana Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on Jan. 12.•
Check out more year-in-review stories from 2022.