Committee advances abortion ban bill to full Indiana Senate

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Anti-abortion legislation that has received practically zero support from advocates or opponents of abortion has passed the Indiana Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee with amendments, including criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions.

Authored by Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, Senate Bill 1 would enact a near-total ban on abortions in Indiana. As initially proposed, the measure called for banning all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.

Following two days of testimony from roughly 60 Hoosiers among hundreds who signed up to testify on SB 1, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers expressed concern about the bill’s current state.

SB 1 passed by a vote of 7-5, with one Republican, Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, joining Democrats in opposition to the bill.

Five out of 16 proposed amendments were heard by the committee, with only three adopted by the end of the hearing.

Committee chair and Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, did not explain why the remainder of the amendments would not be heard.

The adopted measures include Amendment 2, which would allow individuals 16 and older who become pregnant from a rape or incest up to 8 weeks postfertilization to receive an abortion. If a girl 15 or younger is pregnant from a rape or incest, she has up to 12 weeks postfertilization to get an abortion.

Amendment 2 also clarifies that performing any unlawful abortion is a Level 5 felony. Bray noted that criminalization aligns with the penalties doctors face under current Indiana law for performing an illegal abortion, which is currently any abortion performed 20 weeks postfertilization or later.

Additionally, the committee approved Amendment 24, requiring that women who become pregnant due to rape or incest sign an affidavit. That amendment also requires that the affidavit be placed in the women’s permanent health record.

Finally, Amendment 17 would mandate that the same reporting requirements that apply to abortions also apply to terminations of pregnancy allowed by the bill when a fetus can’t survive.

Proposed amendments that were heard but did not survive the committee hearing included permitting abortion care via telehealth, as well as the extension of life insurance, child support, and child or dependent tax deductions to include fetuses at any stage of development.

During public testimony, Hoosier Haylee Sanford said she chose to get an abortion when she was a teenager because she knows firsthand the trauma children can feel when they are born to young parents.

“You want to feel emotionally connected to your parents.  But mine were not emotionally mature enough,” Sanford, who was born to teenage parents, said.

Sanford said she was raised by her grandparents and has struggled with abandonment issues, substance use, anxiety and depression. She said she feared repeating that cycle if she carried her pregnancy to term.

“I did choose a different path. I chose myself,” Sanford said. “I wouldn’t be the mother of two beautiful babies now. Their existence is a result of choosing when and if I wanted to be a mom. I had the opportunity to heal so I could be emotionally available for my children.”

Indianapolis attorney Tracy Betz, who also testified in opposition of the SB 1, said she experienced a life-threatening pregnancy with her second child and almost bled to death during delivery.

“I would have been afraid to have that in a state that doesn’t recognize me as a fully autonomous person,” Betz said. “The child lived and I’m so thankful we were both OK.

“It was a terrifying time,” she added. “I can’t imagine going through it under these circumstances.”

Courtney Milbank of The Bopp Law Firm, who said she represents multiple pro-life organizations, described SB 1 as being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that  “utterly fails” to offer substantial protection for the unborn due to “numerous and pervasive legal flaws and omissions.”

Milbank maintained there should be no exceptions to abortion unless the mother is facing death. If a rape or incest exception is included, she argued that a law enforcement reporting requirement should be implemented.

Milbank further claimed SB 1 turns a blind eye to instances where prosecutors may refuse to prosecute abortion related-cases, specifically citing Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ public declaration that he would not bring charges in such cases.

Kerry Hyatt Bennett of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence stood in opposition to SB 1 on behalf of domestic violence survivors. She said that being able to decide what to do about a pregnancy might be the only source of control a woman can have in an abusive situation.

“Getting pregnant is not always a choice, but staying pregnant should be,” she said.

During a vote on the bill, Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, called SB 1 “fatally flawed” and noted that of the dozens of people who testified on the measure from both sides of the issue, only one person supported it.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said he is disappointed that more amendments were not heard.

“Let’s not make this a political issue,” Melton said. “Let’s listen to Hoosiers. Let’s not project our narrow or personal perspective on this because we are going to impact lives across the board.”

In explaining his vote against SB 1, Messmer said the abortion issue demonstrates “the near impossibility of threading the perfect needle in a short, compressed special session.”

Sen. Eric Bassler, R-Washington, voted to move SB 1 forward but noted that there are “many reasons not to support this bill.” He warned that unless the bill is amended on the floor to become a better piece of legislation, he would ultimately vote against the measure.

For his part, Republican Sen. Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso said he has been “physically sick” to his stomach after listening to testimony the past two days with no guidance on how to proceed from “two very extreme positions.”

“We have what I think everybody believes is a bad bill,” Charbonneau said. “I’m going to vote yes today, and I guess my wish is that we make a bad bill less bad.”

Katie Blair, advocacy and public policy director at the ACLU of Indiana, claimed the opinion of most Hoosiers about abortion has been ignored.

“Indiana legislators are putting the health and safety of Hoosier women at risk and again surrendering to the demands of a small group of anti-abortion extremists,” Blair said in a statement.

At the time of the vote, Glick pointedly noted that SB 1 is a vehicle bill. She said that while she is not exactly happy with the legislation, she wants to discuss the bill in detail on the full Senate floor.

“If it’s the will of the body to kill the bill on the floor, then so be it,” Glick said. “But it’s a start.”

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10 thoughts on “Committee advances abortion ban bill to full Indiana Senate

  1. Shameful. Go ahead and pass this bill. It will be killed in the courts as unconstitutional. Even non-lawers can see that. It does not treat all pregnant women equally. Subgroups of pregnant women have more rights than others. That won’t fly in courts.

  2. This is absolutely disgusting! The lawmakers think that a CHILD who was raped or pregnant through incest should have to carry a baby to full term if they don’t get an abortion by 12 weeks!?!?

  3. That the abortion bill ended up in the Rules Committee instead of the Health and Provider Services Committee sure speaks to the intent and desires of the majority…

  4. I’ve lived in INDIANA for most of my 72 years. This may be the straw that breaks this old camel’s back. Disgusting legislation that mixes religion and state. I’ll save any of you a comment that “you won’t be missed” so please don’t bother. Sue Glick should be ashamed both as an attorney and a woman ….along with all other Republicans who support this type of restrictive legislation.

    1. Please stay. IN needs more folks like you. Hopefully as more people from blue states move to IN, the tide will change. Lots of people from IL moving to IN due to lower costs. That will help move IN from ruby redneck red.

  5. Indiana Republicans want to force Hoosiers to bear children, or die. No exceptions. If you can become pregnant in Indiana, you would have no rights anymore.

    This applies to trans men, rape victims, terminally ill, and the disabled. This applies whether or not pregnancy would kill you. This applies whether or not your pregnancy has no chance of success – you’ll carry your dead fetus until it rots and kills you.

    This applies to your 11 year old daughter.

    This is why “Pro-Life” is pure evil.

  6. Indiana’s power drunk autocratic super majority is acting like the Russian Duma which makes laws to keep the population subdued to their theocratic autocratic authority unconcerned about their human rights , civil rights or scientific facts.

    They are ignoring that women have human and civil rights to make their own healthcare decisions .

  7. How and did we even get here on all social issues? People have turned a blind eye to many things for many years. The only time you get people in an uproar on both sides, is when its something that effects everyone personally. If it doesn’t affect some folks directly, then its not a concern. Politicians using their own moral and religion views to push any law is ridiculous, no matter who’s doing it.