INDIANAPOLIS — A Republican-backed abortion bill that would restrict most abortions in Indiana is on its way to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk.
After an eventful couple of days, the House went through three readings of Senate Bill 1 and turned it back over to the Senate earlier today with two amendments to review.
The Senate passed it around 10 p.m. on Friday with a 28-19 vote. Holcomb released a statement at the end of the day Thursday saying that he “looks forward to signing it as soon as it arrives” on his desk.
Most of the discussion in the Senate during a vote to concur with the bill that came from the House was in strong opposition to Senate Bill 1.
Every Democrat in the Senate voted against this bill, even some Republicans joined them in their votes.
West Lafayette Senator Ron Alting (R-22), voted no, saying “the 10 weeks in this, is just not enough."
"In my heart and in my soul, I know you feel the same way, but I feel like I'm on the right side of history," he said.
Sen. Jean Breaux (D-34) said the bill is an attack on human rights.
“We are backsliding on democracy,” she said, “creeping democracy toward autocracy.”
Sen. Veneta Becker (R-50) said statewide polls show the majority of Hoosiers are against this legislation.
Protesters shout with her speech: “We are the majority!"
One of the only times of silence during the House session earlier in the day fell over the chamber as Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-6), gave discussion on the third reading of Senate Bill 1.
“People in the state of Indiana are getting involved in politics as if their life depends on it,” she said, trembling and wiping tears away. Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-8), who sits in the front row of the House chamber, leaned forward to pass her a tissue. “People demand their voices heard on this issue.”
Abortion-rights advocates cheered from the hall. The protesters were one of the reasons that the chamber was seldom silent Friday.
Since the Indiana Senate voted to send Senate Bill 1 to the House on Saturday, the three readings in the House saw emotional testimony, discussion and amendments to the bill, which ended up passing the House with a vote of 62 to 38.
The bill, while remarkably similar to the bill the Senate sent to the House on Saturday, still had a few amendments tacked on.
S.B. 1 went to the House as a blanket ban on abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Rape and incest exceptions would have been in effect for eight weeks after gestation, 12 weeks for anyone under the age of 16.
The House discussed the bill on Thursday, seeing almost 30 amendments proposed from both sides. Only two amendments were passed, neither of which changed much to the bill.
Amendment 10, the first amendment discussed on Thursday, changed the language of the bill from the life of the mother to “serious health risk” to the mother. It clarified some instances in which a pregnancy would cause health issues, so anyone who would have serious health implications, not just permanent health issues, would be allowed to have an abortion.
The amendment also changed the time in which rape and incest exceptions could be used to 10 weeks, regardless of age and nixed the requirement for a notarized affidavit.
The last amendment proposed Thursday was the next one passed.
Amendment 11 simply changed the start time of the bill. Now the bill, if passed into law, will be effective beginning Sept. 15 rather than immediately after Holcomb’s signature.
Every one of the other amendments, 56 others not even getting discussion, from both anti-abortion and abortion-rights advocates failed a vote.
Amendments 20 and 76 would have restricted abortion access even more than the current S.B. 1 would. Both were voted down by both parties. Republicans had disagreements within the party about S.B. 1, some saying it was a good bill, some saying it went too far and others saying it was not strong enough.
Karen Engleman (R-70) wrote amendment 20 to remove rape and incest exceptions.
“The ending of human life has no place in medical practices,” she said Thursday.
It was voted down 61-24, the majority of both parties.
Rep. Curt Nisly (R-22) proposed amendment 76, which would have removed the term “abortion” from all Indiana legislation since Roe v. Wade was decided and instead make it a crime. It would ban abortion in every case, no exceptions, and make it immune from further discussion in the courts.
“If it passes, Senate Bill 1 becomes the ban on abortion everyone is speaking about,” he said.
The vote on this bill was a nearly unanimous “no” at 93-6.
Amendment 43, authored by Rep. Sue Errington (D-7), would have a non-binding referendum to directly ask the people of Indiana how they want this issue resolved.
“I call it the ‘Let the People Decide Amendment,’” she said.
She said the issue is important enough to enough people to get a good idea of what people want. It would get a lot more people to the polls to tell us what they think, she said. The amendment ultimately failed.
Once the bill passed, the couple hundred protesters standing outside the House chamber began chanting.
“Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!”
Up in the gallery in the House chamber, members of the public echoed these sentiments. Several people said “Shame on you,” and one person said, “We will remember this in November.”
One notable exception was one person, who yelled, “Thank you, Indiana!”
In the hall outside the chamber, tears were in abortion-rights protesters’ eyes. They hugged each other. One protester blew a rape whistle.
One anti-abortion protester was crowded by abortion-rights protesters attempting to argue with him. For the most part, they were not yelling at each other, but abortion-rights protesters followed him as he attempted to leave.
As Republican representatives who voted for the bill left the chamber, protesters shouted and pointed at them, chasing them down the hallway.
Nancy Kohn, an abortion rights protester, held a sign that simply read, “Kansas,” in reference to the referendum Kansas had earlier this week to protect abortion rights.
She said she used to do research on the effectiveness of sexuality education, and she’s here partly because Indiana doesn’t even require sexuality education.
Kohn grew up in Indianapolis, lived in Boston for almost 50 years and she came back because she said her advocacy will do more good here in Indiana.
Rep. Chris Campbell (D-26), who represents West Lafayette, said she was in shock.
“This is a horrible day for women in Indiana,” she said.
A friend of hers, and a constituent, came up to her with tears in her eyes. When Campbell asked how she was doing, she just shook her head and hugged her tightly.
Aboprtion rights protesters gathered in small numbers outside once the House adjourned. A car drove by, the people inside yelling “Pro-life!” while protesters responded “F–- you!”