The Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure passed an amended version of the abortion ban Senate Bill 1 on Tuesday with a vote of 7-5. The bill will be heard by the entire Senate on Thursday.
SB 1 was drafted by Senator Susan Glick, R-LaGrange. It bans abortions with exceptions for cases necessary to protect the pregnant person’s life and victims of rape or incest. The bill also allows abortion in the case of fatal fetal anomalies.
Following the agenda, the chairman of the session, Senator Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, opened the floor to testimonies before allowing amendments and respective questions. After amendments were voted on, senators had time to make closing statements and vote on the legislation.
During the session, Chairman Bray had over ten amendments introduced. The committee discussed four of those in greater detail – passing two and failing two. A motion made by Senator Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, to amend certain statutes in the next session also failed.
One amendment passed says that illegal abortion is a level five felony, meaning a one to six-year imprisonment, depending on the crime. A physician must determine if an abortion is necessary in order to prevent “a substantial permanent impairment of the life of the pregnant woman.”
If the pregnant person is younger than sixteen and “the postfertilization age of the fetus is less than twelve weeks,” the person must provide the physician with a signed affidavit attesting to rape or incest. If older than sixteen, the abortion must occur before eight weeks. This affidavit becomes part of the person’s permanent health record.
In the public comments, both women and men shared medical and professional opinions, as well as personal stories about abortion and its impact on their lives and wellbeing.
Dr. Elizabeth Eglen, a medical director at the Center of Hope in Indianapolis, spoke about her research on domestic violence. She said many women don’t recognize the signs of rape until too late and shared a story of a previous abusive relationship in which she didn’t want to have a child.
“Rape is traumatic, and incest is deplorable,” Eglen said.
In a later relationship, she said she suffered a miscarriage but recalled being grateful for the care she received with Planned Parenthood following the events.
She asked the Senate to reconsider the amendment that would require an affidavit and to be aware that women and girls alike face unnecessary shame in abortions, even when it protects against potential medical problems.
LaKimba Desadier, a representative from Planned Parenthood, said the government shouldn’t interfere with reproductive rights and said she was against the bill.
She said passing the bill would not only be “undemocratic” but would also force women to carry unwanted pregnancies and cause a 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths.
Courtney Milbank, an attorney who represents Indiana Right to Life, also said she opposed the bill. However, she said her objections came from the bill having “numerous and pervasive” wording issues that don’t fully address the health condition of the woman when deciding on abortion and therefore allowed people other than qualified medical professionals to decide on an abortion.
“All unborn life is valuable,” Milbank said.
Before the testimony closed, John Pernell, an Indiana resident, also shared his story of his ex-wife choosing to abort, and how both of them later regretted that decision. He said it exacerbated drug problems he was struggling with, and he felt he had been misinformed of the guilt and shame that comes with abortion.
After several testimonies, the amendments were introduced and voted on. Chairman Bray then motioned for discussion on the bill.
“This is a sad day for the state of Indiana,” Senator Timothy Lanane, D-Anderson, said after amendments were passed. “It's wrong to take away this right of the citizens of Indiana.”
Senator Glick also made comments, saying that while no one agreed on all the terms of the bill, this was the first step. She said that if it is the will of the government body to reject the bill, then it will be. However, if it moves forward, she said there are more opportunities to improve it in its current condition.
Senator Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, said she was sorry that the senate did not take the time to listen to more testimonies during the session. She shared her own story of an unplanned pregnancy and stressed the importance of providing women with time to make the right decisions for themselves and their bodies.
“This bill is not about life, it’s about control,” Yoder said.