Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Friday signed a bill into law that will ban abortions except in cases where the life of the pregnant person is at risk or there are fetal anomalies up to 20 weeks after fertilization. The bill also includes heavily-debated exceptions for pregnancies as a result of rape or incest.
The legislature took up the bill in a special session, during which legislators also passed a tax refund program. The bill was passed back and forth between the house and the senate with more than 60 attempted amendments and extensive debate. The debate culminated Thursday in the introduction of Rep. Karen Engleman’s amendment to remove the exceptions for rape and incest. The amendment was voted down 61-39.
Engleman defended her amendment, saying, “I think it’s harmful to put a minor in the position of being the new Jane Roe. The way whether or not we allow lives to be ended should not rest on the traumatized children of a young rape survivor.”
The debate over the bill and Engelman’s amendment was filled with emotional testimony from many representatives. Sen. Jean Breaux stated on the senate floor, “Eight of us in this chamber have ever had the possibility of becoming pregnant, yet we are about to tell millions of Hoosier women what they can do with their bodies.”
Rep. Wendy McNamara, one of the bill’s sponsors, defended the bill, saying, “I think we’ve landed in a great place and good policy for the state of Indiana.”
Holcomb celebrated the signing, saying:
Following the overturning of Roe, I stated clearly that I would be willing to support legislation that made progress in protecting life. In my view, SEA [Senate Enrolled Act] 1 accomplishes this goal following its passage in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly with a solid majority of support. These actions followed long days of hearings filled with sobering and personal testimony from citizens and elected representatives on this emotional and complex topic. Ultimately, those voices shaped and informed the final contents of the legislation and its carefully negotiated exceptions to address some of the unthinkable circumstances a woman or unborn child might face.
The law is the first such in the country since the US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and will take effect on September 15.