Protesters fill Indiana statehouse as lawmakers debate new abortion ban

The vast majority of the protesters were pro-abortion, outnumbering a small group of anti-abortion demonstrators who held signs outside the State House.

The protesters have little chance of changing the course of the legislature, as the Republicans control both houses with legislative majorities, as well as the governor’s office.

State senators heard evidence from about 30 people on Monday, only about 10 percent of the 280 people who asked to speak.

Across the street ahead of the session, Vice President Kamala Harris called a round table of dozens of Democrats, lawmakers and state leaders to denounce the Republicans’ sweeping ban on abortion. The proposed Indiana law is not a so-called heartbeat bill, but a total ban with few exceptions.

“I’m here to support these outstanding and courageous leaders, and in particular on this day when Indiana became the first state since Dobbs’ decision to call a special session to propose legislation that … would essentially be a ban on abortion for women,” said Harris. “When you understand how the female body works, you will understand that the parameters being proposed mean that for the vast majority of women, by the time they realize they are pregnant, they will be effectively denied access to reproductive health care that will allow her to choose what will be with her body.

Hoosier State has unexpectedly become a hotspot for a nationwide abortion debate in recent weeks after a 10-year-old rape victim crossed the state line from Ohio to have an abortion in Indiana, and following comments from the CEO of the National Right to Life Committee. Indiana resident attorney Jim Bopp, who told POLITICO that this girl should have carried her pregnancy to term.

But after State Senate Republicans unveiled their proposed bill last week, Bopp’s group announced its opposition, saying it does not impose fines on abortion doctors.

“We have a piece of legislation that no one really likes,” said Mike O’Brien, an Indiana-based Republican operative and former director of legislative affairs for a former U.S. governor. Mitch Daniels. So I think we’re on target. He added: “This bill is quite far from what they want and will support. But most of the public supports exceptions and no enforcement.”

Month and day since the Supreme Court ruled on the case Dobbs decision that abolished the national right to abortion, enshrined Caviar In 1973, Indiana Republicans found themselves on a delicate path. On the one hand, they face anti-abortion activists to whom they pledged allegiance in the polls. On the other hand, they are facing a national backlash – this is a familiar place for them. In 2015 under the then governor. Mike Pence, the state found itself at the center of a national firestorm after Pence signed into law the so-called Religious Freedom and Recovery Act, which resulted in some states announcing travel bans to the state and the NCAA and Nascar issuing statements critical of the legislation. .

Next week, Kansas voters are also expected to have their say on abortion rights in the state’s ballot initiative. In Indiana, the debate is in the state legislature, where the issue currently monopolizes the agenda.

In the weeks leading up to the special session, Republican lawmakers were largely silent about their plans for the proposed legislation. Republican Senator Kyle Walker, representing the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, was a rare exception: last week he called for more modest changes, cutting the current Indiana law banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization to 12 to 15 weeks.

“With rollover Rowe vs. WadeI believe that we need to find a balance between pregnant women so that they can make their own decisions about their health in the first trimester of pregnancy, as well as protect the unborn child as it approaches viability outside the womb, making exceptions for rape, incest , maternal health and fatal fetal anomalies,” Walker said in a statement.

After Bopp’s comments were reported to POLITICO, Walker’s wife, Republican consultant Jennifer Hallowell, expressed outrage in a post on Twitter, writing that: “Some feel that your 10-year-old daughter or granddaughter should be forced to carry their abuser’s child and become a mother. Not me. Bopp’s quote sounds like someone who has never had to fear or tolerate a man forcing himself on her,” she wrote.

In Indiana, the actions of the legislature in the coming days will have life-or-death consequences. Indiana ranks 3rd place in the country to maternal mortality. Republicans in the Indiana Senate have proposed $50 million for maternity services along with their ban on abortion.

The special session may last until August. 14, but the leaders of the legislature said they would complete their business within two weeks.

Democratic state senator Jean Bro, who took part in the roundtable with Harris, said the Republican-backed legislation would increase maternal mortality.

“A total ban on abortion, similar to that proposed by the Republicans from Indiana, will lead to 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths overall and 33 percent more among black women,” Bro said in a statement. “This does not include deaths from attempted abortions in potentially dangerous, unlicensed facilities. Lack of access to abortion in a state with terrible maternity protection will kill women.”