The Republican-controlled Indiana Senate gave final legislative approval on Friday to a bill that would outlaw most abortions, just six weeks after the United States Supreme Court overturned a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy.
The law, which was approved by the state House of Representatives on a 28-19 vote, would become Indiana the first U.S. state to implement such a restriction since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case legalising abortion statewide was overruled on June 24.
Republican Governor Eric Holcomb now has the option of signing the bill into law.
Indiana’s legislature passed the bill at a special session convened by Republican leaders after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson cleared the way for all states to limit abortion as they saw fit.
West Virginia is set to approve a near-total abortion ban in the coming days, and ten other Republican-led states have already enacted such harsh limits that existed before Dobbs superseded Roe as the law of the land.
In late June, a 10-year-old rape victim from nearby Ohio travelled to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy because her native state restricted abortions beyond six weeks of gestation, with no exceptions for sexual assault or incest.
The girl was only three days past Ohio’s six-week abortion limit, which had been prohibited from implementation before Roe was overturned but subsequently went into effect hours after the Dobbs decision.
Current Indiana law, which is in place until the governor’s signature on the newly passed abortion measure, SB-1, allows abortions up to 22 weeks following a patient’s last menstrual period, with various extra restrictions.
SB-1 would outright prohibit abortions, with exceptions allowed in cases of prenatal defects deemed deadly or to avert major physical health risks to the mother. Exceptions are also made for teenage victims of rape or incest, but only up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Physicians who breach the policy risk being charged with a felony and having their medical licence revoked.
The Indianapolis legislature passed the bill three days after abortion opponents suffered a huge setback in the first statewide election on the subject since Roe v. Wade. Voters in Kansas, another mostly conservative Midwestern state, rejected a ballot issue on Tuesday that sought to eliminate abortion-rights safeguards from the state constitution.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates-East staged a protest at the Indiana statehouse on Friday evening to oppose an abortion ban.
Earlier in the day, dozens of abortion rights advocates gathered at the Capitol, yelling “Shame on you!” as House lawmakers passed the bill, according to a video uploaded on Twitter.
“SB-1 is a heinous and perilous assault on liberty and freedom. We will not relent until everyone has access to the abortion treatment they require without interference from politicians “Indiana’s ACLU posted on Twitter.