The vast majority of protesters were pro-abortion rights, more than a small group of anti-abortion protesters holding signs outside the state house.
The protesters have little chance of changing the course of the legislature, as Republicans control both chambers of legislative supermajorities and the governor’s office.
State senators heard testimonies from about 30 people Monday, only about 10 percent of the 280 people who had asked to speak.
Across the street before the session began, Vice President Kamala Harris convened a roundtable of dozens of Democratic legislators and state leaders to condemn Republicans’ sweeping abortion ban. The proposed legislation in Indiana is not a so-called heartbeat law, but a total ban with minor exceptions.
“I am here to support these extraordinary and courageous leaders and especially on this day where Indiana is the first state since Dobbs’ decision to convene a special session to propose a law that… essentially a ban on abortion for women,” Harris said. “If you understand how a woman’s body works, you will understand that the parameters that are being presented mean that for the vast majority of women, by the time she realizes she is pregnant, she will in fact not have access to it. have reproductive health services that would allow her to choose what happens to her body.”
Hoosier state has become an unexpected flashpoint in the national abortion debate in recent weeks, after a 10-year-old rape victim crossed state lines from Ohio for an abortion in Indiana, and in response to comments from the General of the National Right to Life Committee. counsel Jim Bopp, a resident of Indiana, who told POLITICO that that girl should have brought her pregnancy to term.
But after state Senate Republicans unveiled their bill last week, Bopp’s group announced its opposition, saying it would not sanction doctors who performed abortions.
“We have a piece of legislation that exactly nobody likes,” said Mike O’Brien, an Indiana Republican agent and former legislative director to former Governor Mitch Daniels. “So I think we’re on track.” He added: “This bill is quite far from what they want and will support. But the majority of the public supports exceptions and not enforcement.”
A month and a day since the Supreme Court ruled on the… dobbs decision affecting the national right to abortion, as laid down in roe in 1973, the Indiana Republicans took a delicate path. On the one hand, they face the anti-abortion rights activists to whom they have pledged allegiance in surveys. On the other hand, they are facing a national backlash – a familiar place for them: in 2015, under the then government. Mike Pence, the state found itself at the center of a national firestorm after Pence signed a so-called Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which led some states to issue travel bans on the state, as well as the NCAA and Nascar making statements enforcing the legislation. criticized.
Next week, Kansas voters are also expected to voice their views on abortion rights in a state ballot initiative. In Indiana, the debate is taking place in the state legislature, where the issue currently monopolizes the agenda.
In the weeks leading up to the special session, Republican lawmakers largely kept their plans for bills quiet. Republican Senator Kyle Walker, who represents the suburban Indianapolis town of Fishers, was the rare exception: Last week he called for a more modest change, shortening Indiana’s current law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of conception to 12 to 15 weeks.
“By overthrowing Roe v. WadeI believe we need to find a balance for pregnant women to make their own health decisions in the first trimester of pregnancy and also provide protection to an unborn baby as it progresses towards viability outside the womb, while making exceptions for rape, incest, maternal health and cases of fatal fetal anomaly,” Walker said in a statement.
After POLITICO reported Bopp’s comments, Walker’s wife, Republican consultant Jennifer Hallowell, expressed her outrage in a Twitter post, writing: “Some believe your 10-year-old daughter or granddaughter should be forced to carry her rapist’s baby.” to wear and become a mother. Not me. Bopp’s quote sounds just like someone who has never been afraid or had to suffer a man forcing himself on her,” she wrote.
In Indiana, the actions of the legislature in the coming days will have life-and-death consequences. Indiana ranks 3rd in the country for maternal mortality. Indiana Senate Republicans have proposed funding $50 million in maternity services in addition to their abortion ban.
The special session could last until August 14, but legislative leaders have said they will finalize their cases within two weeks.
Democratic Senator Jean Breaux, who took part in the Harris roundtable, claimed the Republican-backed legislation will lead to higher maternal deaths.
“Total abortion bans, similar to those proposed by Indiana Republicans, will lead to a… 21 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths overall, and a 33 percent increase among black women,” Breaux said in a statement. “This does not include deaths from attempted abortions in potentially dangerous unlicensed facilities. Lack of access to abortion in a state with appalling maternity care will kill women.”