Senate Bill 1 barely received the 26 votes necessary to pass in the Indiana Senate on Saturday after debate over how far the bill should go. SB 1, which bans abortion with exceptions for rape and incest, will be sent to the Indiana House of Representatives next week.
The final vote tally, 26-20, included several Republicans voting no, either because they found the bill too weak on abortion or because they wanted a more balanced bill. The House is expected to add more amendments before being sent back to the Senate for final approval.
Before a vote was taken, several senators voiced their opposition to the bill.
Senator Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, said the bill was not clear enough for doctors and cited studies that showed how most denied abortions result in economic insecurity and feelings of resentment while raising the child.
“Today’s bill mirrors autocratic laws found in nondemocratic countries around the world,” Breaux said.
On the other side, Senator Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, said the bill did not go far enough to restrict abortions and called the vote the most important decision the senate members will ever make in their lives.
Senator J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, said he’s received messages from constituents who are doctors that plan to leave the state if the bill is passed.
Ford also read a letter from a constituent at Carmel High School who said she and her friends are going out of state for college because of actions from the Indiana legislature.
“IU is a great university whose only flaw is that it’s located in the jurisdiction of the Indiana legislature,” Ford quoted from the letter.
Later in the hearing, Senator Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, told the Senate a personal story of an unplanned pregnancy where she made several appointments at Planned Parenthood to decide whether or not she wanted to have a child.
“Do you think I’m a monster for considering abortion?” Yoder asked.
Yoder said Hoosiers did not support the bill and that legislators were not being held accountable.
“This is the end result of unchecked power, ego and hubris,” she said.
Yoder’s speech elicited claps from the gallery, prompting Lieutenant Governor Crouch to threaten to clear it. Throughout the hearing, shouts of protesters could be heard from the hallway.
One of the last to speak was Senator Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, who said she had been a lifelong Republican. She said SB 1 violated Republican principles.
“Most of our constituents overwhelmingly object to this piece of legislation,” she said.
As senators voted, a few explained their vote, expressing distaste for the bill. They said they hoped the House would improve upon the bill by making it more restrictive.