Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law that would ban most abortions on Friday, making it the first state in the US to restrict abortions, since the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case.
“Following the overturning of Roe, I stated clearly that I would be willing to support legislation that made progress in protecting life,” Holcomb said in a statement.
The Republican-controlled Indiana Senate approved the near-total ban 28-19, hours after House members advanced it 62-38.
Doctors request exceptions in bill
The ban, which takes effect on September 15, includes limited exceptions — including in cases of rape and incest up to 10 weeks post-fertilization, and to avert potentially serious harm to the mother.
The House added exceptions for protecting the health and life of the mother after repeated requests from medical professionals and activists. The legislation also allows abortions if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.
Under the bill, abortions can be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals. This essentially means all abortion clinics would lose their licenses.
A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file required reports would stand to lose their medical license.
The bill split Indiana residents as abortion-rights supporters said the bill goes too far, while anti-abortion activists insisted it doesn’t go far enough.
Republican lawmaker Wendy McNamara of Evansville, who sponsored the bill, said the legislation “makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the nation.”
However, fellow Republican lawmaker Ann Vermilion campaigned against the bill and condemned her party members who called women “murderers” for getting an abortion.
Case of 10-year-old that shook nation
The bill comes only weeks after the country was roiled by the news of a 10-year-old rape victim who had to travel to Indiana from neighboring Ohio to end her pregnancy.
The child was forced to come to Indiana because of Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” ban.
US President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order to protect abortion rights, in regard to out-of-state travel for the procedure. The measure makes it easier to travel to parts of the US where it is still legal to terminate pregnancy.
Abortion rights activists enraged
Earlier in the day, dozens of abortion rights advocates rallied at the state Capitol, chanting “Shame on you!” as members of the House passed the bill, as seen in a Twitter video.
Meanwhile, West Virginia is likely days away from passing a near-total abortion ban.
On Tuesday, Kansas rejected a ballot measure seeking to remove abortion-rights protections from the state’s constitution.
ss/dj (AFP, AP, Reuters)
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