Indianapolis [US]: The Indiana lawmakers passed a near-total ban on abortion on Friday, with some exceptions, becoming the first state in the US to pass this new legislation since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The measure now goes to Governor Eric Holcomb, a Republican who encouraged legislators to consider new abortion limits during a special session that he called, The New York Times reported.
The bill’s passage came just three days after the voters in Kansas, another conservative Midwestern state, rejected an amendment that would have stripped abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, a result seen nationally as a sign of unease with abortion bans.
There were some states that were prepared in advance with the abortion bans that were triggered by the fall of Roe. Lawmakers in other conservative states said they would consider more restrictions.
But, at least in the first week since that decision, Republicans had struggled to speak with a unified voice on what comes next.
Lawmakers in South Carolina and West Virginia have weighed but taken no final action on proposed bans.
Officials in Iowa, Florida, Nebraska and other conservative states have so far not taken legislative action.
And especially in the last few weeks, some Republican politicians have recalibrated their messaging on the issue, reported The New York Times.
“West Virginia tried it, and they stepped back from the ledge. Kansas tried it, and the voters resoundingly rejected it,” State Representative Justin Moed, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said on the House floor before voting against the bill.
“Why is that? Because up until now it has just been a theory. It was easy for people to say they were pro-life. It was easy to see things so black and white. But now, that theory has become reality, and the consequences of the views are more real,” he added.
The Indiana bill passed the legislation with limited exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest, and to protect the life and physical health of the mother, according to The New York Times.
Beyond those limited exceptions, the bill would end legal abortion in Indiana next month if it is signed by Governor Holcomb. The procedure is currently allowed at up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
“If this isn’t a government issue, protecting life, I don’t know what is,” said Representative John Young, a Republican who supported the bill. He added, “I know the exceptions are not enough for some and too much for others, but it’s a good balance.”
The bill removes Senate-approved time frames based on a patient’s age for abortions in cases of rape or incest. Instead, it creates a blanket ban after 10 weeks fertilisation on abortions in cases of rape and incest.
Victims would not be required to sign a notarised affidavit attesting to an attack.