(INDIANAPOLIS) – A proposed abortion ban in Indiana are drawing near-universal opposition at a Senate hearing — from both sides of the issue.
Abortion rights protesters flooded the hallway outside the Senate chamber, with loud chanting audible inside the chamber throughout a nearly five-hour hearing. But anti-abortion forces inside the chamber weren’t happy either, with one witness after another accusing Senate Rules Committee members of endorsing “slaughter” by including exceptions for rape and incest. Witnesses repeatedly invoked the Bible to argue legislators should protect fetal life in all circumstances. Isaac Manring called the bill “a fraud masquerading as a pro-life bill.”
And Terre Haute attorney Jim Bopp, general counsel for National Right to Life, issued a statement blasting the rape and incest exceptions, the lack of enforcement provisions, and the bill’s explicit legalization of the so-called “morning after” pill.
Both supporters and opponents of abortion rights charge the wording of the exceptions is too vague. Terre Haute ob/gyn Mary Abernathy warns many doctors may simply stop practicing prenatal medicine rather than risk second-guessing, even in situations where legislators intend for the procedure to be legal. And Indianapolis ob/gyn Caroline Rouse warns that while the bill allows abortions to avoid “permanent impairment” of the mother’s health, doctors often don’t know how serious a complication is going to become until the moment it turns dangerous.
Ariel Ream testified her husband came to her in tears, fearful of continuing their fertility treatments because of the risk of a high-risk pregnancy where the bill might leave doctors unable or unwilling to intervene.
Rouse estimates the bill as written would ban 98% of all abortions in Indiana.
The Indiana chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians said the medical-emergency language is adequate, and won’t take a position on the overall bill as long as that provision or something similar remains. More than three dozen other witnesses were unanimously against the bill, as either too strict or too loose.
Senators plan to debate possible amendments on Tuesday and again on Thursday. House and Senate leaders have said their goal is to send a bill to Governor Holcomb by the end of next week.