INDIANAPOLIS — A bill on a near-total ban of abortion in Indiana is on its way to the House Floor.
The bill was heard at the House Courts and Criminal Code committee on Tuesday. While the majority of the hearing has been comprised of public testimony both for and against the passing of Senate Bill 1, the hearing began with the committee passing Amendment 25.
The amendment brings several changes to SB1, including:
- “Lethal fetal anomaly” exception: “Lethal fetal anomaly” is now specifically listed in the bill under exceptions to the abortion ban. A “lethal fetal anomaly” is a situation in which a fetus is expected to die before or shortly after birth. This is added to previous list of exceptions that includes rape, incest and the mother’s health.
- Definition of mother’s health: The definition of mother’s health has been changed “to prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health of the pregnant woman.” The bill previously only covered to impairment of the woman’s life.
- Deadlines in rape and incest exception: The amendment adopts a 10-week post-fertilization deadline for any rape or incest survivor, regardless of age. It eliminates the previous deadline of 12 weeks for a person under 16 and 8 weeks for a person 16 years and older.
- Affidavit removal: Under the amendment, there no longer needs to be a notarized affidavit in cases of rape and incest.
- Attorney general provision: The provision has been removed that would permit the state attorney general to to prosecute crimes (abortion in this case) if the local county prosecutor refused to.
Lawmakers on the committee approved the changes unanimously though they still have opposing views on the bill itself.
“This is one of the most difficult and contentious issues of our lifetime,” said State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville), the bill’s House sponsor, during Tuesday’s committee hearing. “I’m confident that this amendment is a thoughtful way forward that shows compassion for both mothers and babies.”
“I think it fixes a lot of problems that were created in the Senate as the bill moved along,” said State Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington). “But as you can probably imagine, there are still a lot of problematic things from my viewpoint that remain.”
During the hours-long public comment period, many Hoosiers on both sides of the abortion debate said they appreciate the amendment but still have concerns.
“Some of the language I think still needs to be tightened up, particularly when we look at the life of the mother exception,” said Ryan McCann, executive director of the Indiana Family Institute, arguing the current bill leaves several loopholes.
Several doctors who support abortion access say they’re worried about potential prosecution of physicians.
“Even though it’s not adding any additional criminal penalties, it’s expanding those situations that would fall under that criminal penalty,” said Dr. Daniel Elliott of the Indiana chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The House Ways and Means Committee also met on Tuesday to discuss a bill centered on a fund that would set aside $45 million for programs designed to support working Hoosier families.
The committee passed the abortion bill mostly along party lines. At 8-5, State Rep. Cindy Ziemke was the only Republican to join all Democrats in voting against the bill.