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Indiana Senate approves nearly total abortion ban by a single vote

Indiana Democratic Senator Shelli Yoder speaks on the floor of the Indiana Senate. She gestures with her left hand while speaking into a microphone that extends up from a lectern in front of her.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) speaks in opposition to a proposed abortion ban on the floor of the Indiana Senate on July 30, 2022. She called the bill "cruel" and "invasive."

A bill to ban abortion in Indiana with limited exceptions passed the state Senate by a single vote Saturday.

The measure, SB 1 (ss), bans abortion except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the pregnant person is at risk. For the rape and incest exceptions, the victim must sign an affidavit and get it notarized. And even then, if they're 16 years old or older, they only have eight weeks to access abortion care. If they're younger than 16, they have 12 weeks.

In three hours of debate Saturday, only one person spoke in favor of the bill: its author, Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange). And she called it an imperfect framework.

“We’re trying to hit an area or a place that we can live with, if you will – that we can protect as many people as possible,” Glick said.

Ten Republicans voted against the measure. Some Republicans, like Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville), said the measure goes too far.

“This bill doesn’t make things better. It makes things worse," Becker said. "More women, children and families will suffer.”

READ MORE: What happened in the first week of Indiana’s special session? And what’s next?

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Others followed the guidance of Indiana Right To Life, one of the state's most influential anti-abortion organizations. It opposes the measure because it said it doesn’t go far enough in restricting abortion.

"Don't misunderstand that I'm throwing in with anybody who supports abortion," said Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville). "That's not it. My 'no' vote – don't get me mixed up with that. We're light years apart."

Some in the GOP caucus agree that the measure doesn't restrict abortion enough, but voted for it anyway. Sen. Stacey Donato (R-Logansport) said she only believes in an exception to preserve the life of the pregnant person.

"So, it is with much difficulty that I am going to vote 'yes' to move this bill forward, so that we have the chance to protect life in the House," Donato said.

Hundreds of abortion rights protesters outside the Senate chamber shouted "Shame on you" as the final vote came down.

Democrats all opposed the bill. Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) called it “cruel," "invasive” and said the limited exceptions were no kind of compromise.

“A woman should never have to be raped to guarantee her liberty, her reproductive freedom,” Yoder said.

Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) said Indiana isn't ready for the consequences of an abortion ban.

"We have the third highest maternal mortality rate in the country," Lanane said. "That's how much we care about life, here in Indiana. That's how much we care about the lives of women."

Republicans are advancing legislation – SB 2 (ss) and HB1001 (ss) – aimed at spending more money for support and services for pregnant Hoosiers, families and children. But providers of those services say the level of funding won't be nearly enough.

The abortion ban now advances to the Indiana House.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri.