STATE HOUSE–She says she’s a pro-life woman, but also a pro-choice “Republican woman”. Rep. Ann Vermilion’s speech on the Indiana House floor Friday morning before a vote on the abortion ban bill was both personal and emotional, drawing audible cheers at times from the protesters in the halls of the Statehouse.
“I wasn’t prepared to debate this topic in specificity, much less in two week’s time. We are moving too fast for fruitful discussion,” she criticized. “Rushed decisions make bad decisions. Forced decisions nearly always remove discernment and fruitfulness.”
Vermilion said she has changed her viewpoint since the special legislative session began. Once a hospital administrator in Marion, she said she believes all Hoosiers have been challenged on their beliefs on a complicated issue. She described herself as taking a middle of the road stance.
She also shared personal info and got emotional in her 13-minute speech.
“I am a Hoosier woman that’s just months off from being a reproductive woman, a reproductive Hoosier, meaning hot flashes I’m still getting used to,” she said. “Each one of us legislators could be raped. We could have a piece of our soul ripped from us and be violated.”
LISTEN: Rep. Ann Vermilion’s speech on the House floor
While still sympathetic to the viewpoint of many of her colleagues, and adding that she believes unborn life should be protected by legislation, she said she believes no government should take away a woman’s ability for “safe medical care during an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy”.
That sentiment drew cheers from the hallway, most people there to oppose the near-ban.
Vermilion also had criticism for some of the questioning and testimony so far, though she insisted her colleagues were doing the best they could.
“We have spent the last week’s trying to legislate what’s perceived as bad apple doctors,” she said. “That’s so insulting to the thousands of Hoosiers that are practicing that don’t deserve to be questioned for their decision-making and counseling to women in a very traumatic time.”
“Vermilion also addressed the religious aspects, acknowledging her Christian faith, saying she believes she’s right with the Lord, but also that she believes Jesus would have mercy on women who might decide to have an abortion in some circumstances, especially after rape.
“They are praying at that abortion clinic and I believe the Lord would show up with them. I think he would show up and he would be okay if she maybe chose her life instead of the pregnancy,” she said.
Vermilion also said the legislature has put in the hours, hearing testimony and considering all of it, taking plenty of criticism from the Hoosiers they represent and who employ them to make such decisions.
“You have the luxury of spewing beliefs and opinions in the cheap seats,” she said. “You are not in this house.”
While espousing ambiguity for a quarter hour, Vermilion said she believes her speech reflects the feelings of the majority of Republican women in Indiana.