Indiana lawmakers pass first state abortion ban since Roe was struck down

By Gabriella Borter and Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – Indiana’s Republican-controlled Senate gave final legislative approval on Friday to a bill that would ban most abortions, six weeks after a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned the constitutional right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy.

The bill, adopted on a vote 28 to 7 hours after being approved by the state House of Representatives, would make Indiana the first US state to impose such a ban since the landmark Roe v. Indiana case. Wade’s 1973 bill that legalized abortion across the country was overturned on June 24.

The decision to sign the measure into law now rests with Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The Indiana legislature adopted the measure during a special session called by its Republican leaders after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, in a Mississippi case titled Dobbs v. Jackson, will immediately pave the way for all states to regulate abortion as they see fit.

West Virginia is likely days away from passing a near-total abortion ban, and 10 other Republican-led states have already implemented similarly strict bans that were on the books before Dobbs replaced Roe as the law of the land.

The so-called Hoosier State became a flashpoint for the renewed national abortion debate in late June when a 10-year-old rape victim from neighboring Ohio traveled to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy because her home state prohibited abortions after six weeks of gestation, with no exceptions for sexual assault or incest.

The girl was just three days past Ohio’s six-week abortion limit, the enforcement of which had been blocked before Roe was struck down, but then went into effect hours after Dobbs’ ruling.

Current Indiana law, in effect pending the governor’s signature on the recently passed abortion bill, SB-1, allows abortions up to 22 weeks after a patient’s last menstrual period, with several additional restrictions.

SB-1 would ban abortions entirely, with exceptions allowed in cases of fetal abnormalities considered lethal, or to prevent serious risks to the physical health of the mother. Exceptions are also allowed for underage victims of rape or incest, but only up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Doctors found to have violated the measure could be charged with a felony and face having their medical license revoked.

The final approval by lawmakers in Indianapolis came three days after abortion opponents were dealt a heavy blow in the first statewide test ballot on the issue since Roe’s fall. Voters in Kansas, another predominantly conservative Midwestern state, on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure that seeks to remove abortion-rights protections from their state constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates-East staged a protest at the Indiana statehouse Friday night to oppose the abortion ban.

Earlier in the day, dozens of abortion rights advocates rallied on Capitol Hill, chanting “Shame on you!” when House members approved the bill, according to a video posted on Twitter.

“SB-1 is a cruel and dangerous attack on freedom. We will not stop fighting until everyone can access the abortion care they need without politicians interfering,” the ACLU of Indiana wrote on Twitter.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Robert Birsel)

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