'Backsliding on democracy': Indiana governor signs extreme abortion ban bill

Abortion rights protest
Protesters chanted outside the chamber as the bill was debated. Photo: Leif Ostara/@ACLUIndiana/Twitter

Governor Eric Holcomb signed legislation on August 5 making Indiana the first state in the United States to pass extreme abortion restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe Wade.

Earlier, the state senate approved the near-total ban on a 28–19 vote just hours after the House passed it in a 62–38 vote.

Before the Governor signed the bill, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement in response: “The extremist lawmakers who forced this bill through a special session clearly could not care less about what their constituents want or need. It’s appalling that they’re going to these lengths to block people from accessing abortion care, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

"Governor Holcomb has a chance to veto this legislation and protect reproductive freedom for millions of Hoosiers — he should take it. NARAL Pro-Choice America and our over 63,000 members in the state will be watching.”

The ban, which takes effect on September 15, includes some exceptions. Abortions would be permitted in cases of rape and incest, before 10-weeks post-fertilisation; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a foetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.

Under the bill, abortions can be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centres owned by hospitals, meaning all abortion clinics would lose their licenses. A doctor who performs an “illegal” abortion or fails to file required reports would lose their medical license.

“We are backsliding on democracy,” said Democratic Senator Jean Breaux of Indianapolis. “What other freedoms, what other liberties are on the chopping block, waiting to be stripped away?”

Outside the chambers, activists loudly chanted over lawmakers’ remarks, carrying signs like “Roe roe roe your vote” and “Build this wall” between church and state.

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]