West Virginia and Indiana near near-total abortion bans

West Virginia and Indiana inched closer to passing total abortion bans this week following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade last month.

During special legislative sessions, lawmakers from both states debated bills that seek to ban almost all abortions with few exceptions. The state capitol buildings were full with anti-abortion and abortion-rights protesters, sparking heated debates and rallies that dominated local headlines this week. Advocates on both sides testified on the legislative floors of their states in hopes of swaying legislators’ votes.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) is expected to sign his state’s near-total abortion ban into law in the coming days, after the bill successfully passed both houses this week. week. Indiana’s abortion restriction has yet to go further: It has not yet been voted on by either house, but it passed the committee in a 7-5 vote on Tuesday. The Indiana state Senate will vote on the ban on Saturday, and the bill is expected to speed through the state’s GOP-controlled legislature and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Indiana currently has seven abortion clinics serving 1.3 million women of reproductive age. West Virginia has one abortion clinic left that serves the entire state, which has about 313,000 women of childbearing age. If these bills become law, all of these clinics will stop providing abortion services, forcing those who can to travel out of state for care. (These numbers do not include transgender and non-binary people in these states who may become pregnant.)

An anti-abortion advocate holds up a crucifix as anti-abortion supporters gather at the Indiana State Capitol before the legislature debates a proposal to ban nearly all abortions in the state.  (Photo: Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

An anti-abortion advocate holds up a crucifix as anti-abortion supporters gather at the Indiana State Capitol before the legislature debates a proposal to ban nearly all abortions in the state. (Photo: Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

An anti-abortion advocate holds up a crucifix as anti-abortion supporters gather at the Indiana State Capitol before the legislature debates a proposal to ban nearly all abortions in the state. (Photo: Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

From the Supreme Court gnaws dump last month, more than a dozen states banned or severely restricted abortion. The fault leaves behind fear and confusion, legal gray areas Y a mosaic of abortion care — all of which will disproportionately affect low-income people, women of color, and people who live in rural areas. Many people will have to travel out of state to get an abortion, while others with fewer resources will be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

In West Virginia, the state legislature called a special session to propose House Bill 302 that would ban abortion in almost all cases, criminalizing and threatening providers with up to 10 years in prison. As state senators voted to approve the abortion ban Friday night, abortion rights advocates could be heard outside the legislature chanting and protesting the restriction.

The bill has limited exceptions for ectopic pregnancies, fatal fetal anomalies and life-threatening medical emergencies, though experts have noted that “Life-saving” or medical emergency exceptions are often vague and can put pregnant people at unnecessary medical risk. It also requires physicians to notify a minor’s parents and then wait the required 48 hours before providing abortion care to the minor, a waiting period that is required even if the minor is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, like an ectopic pregnancy.

The ban also includes exceptions for victims of rape and incest, thanks to an amendment that passed this week. The amendment, however, only allows victims to access abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and they are required to report the crime to law enforcement before accessing care. Restrictions that require victims to report to the police before accessing an abortion are inherently problematic as they two out of three sexual assaults go unreportedand law enforcement officials can sometimes be the perpetrators of sexual violence.

“If a man decides that I am an object and does unspeakable and tragic things to me, am I, a child, supposed to bear and give birth to another child?” Addison Gardner, 12, said during the public hearing portion of the debate.

“Should I subject my body to the physical trauma of pregnancy? Do I have to suffer the mental implications, a child who had no say in what was being done to my body? She continued. “Some here say they are pro-life. What about my life? Doesn’t my life matter to you?

West Virginia’s abortion ban passed the state House earlier this week and the state Senate on Friday night. The bill now returns to the House to review minor changes before heading to the governor’s desk. Justice is expected to sign the bill in the coming days. One of the main promoters of the bill was the Magistrate, who earlier this week incorporated the issue of the abortion law into the special session and asked the legislature to “clarify and modernize” the state’s norms on abortion.

The Republican-controlled Indiana legislature proposed Senate Bill 1 last week, which bans abortion from the moment of conception. The bill includes exceptions if the pregnant person’s life is at risk, although, like the West Virginia bill, experts argue these exceptions are poorly drafted and leave doctors in difficult situations that are often put pregnant women at risk. The bill also has exceptions for rape and incest, but the victim must sign an affidavit attesting to the assault before she can receive care.

Earlier this week, Indiana State Sen. Mike Young (R) proposed an amendment that would remove the rape and incest exceptions from the bill.

“WWhat you’re telling me is that if the woman is raped, we should kill the baby,” Young told colleagues. “That is not right and I will never, ever accept it.” Young’s amendment failed in the Senate on Thursday night in a 28-18 vote.

The Indiana Senate is scheduled to vote on SB 1 on Saturday and it will then be sent to the House. The bill is expected to pass both the Senate and the House given that Republicans control both chambers with supermajorities and the state has a Republican governor. Indiana lawmakers have until August 14 to pass the bill, but party leaders have said the legislature will likely end before that deadline.

Vice President Kamala Harris met with Indiana Senate Democrats on Monday to voice her support as they began a long-term effort to block SB 1.

“You don’t have to abandon your faith or your beliefs to accept that the government shouldn’t be making this decision for you,” Harris said at a roundtable meeting. “An individual must be able to choose based on his personal beliefs and the dictates of his faith. But the government shouldn’t tell a person what to do, especially when it comes to one of the most intimate and personal decisions a woman can make.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.


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