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Near-total abortion ban in Indiana passes GOP-controlled Senate and heads to House

<i>Jon Cherry/Getty Images</i><br/>Abortion rights protesters march outside the Indiana State Capitol building. Near-total abortion ban in Indiana passed the GOP-controlled Senate and now heads to the State House.
Getty Images
Jon Cherry/Getty Images
Abortion rights protesters march outside the Indiana State Capitol building. Near-total abortion ban in Indiana passed the GOP-controlled Senate and now heads to the State House.

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Samantha Beech, CNN

Indiana’s Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill Saturday which would ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy with limited exceptions, despite opposition from abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates.

State lawmakers, reconvened in a special legislative session to consider abortion restrictions, passed Senate Bill 1 in a 26-20 vote following nearly four hours of passionate debate. It now moves to the Republican-controlled state House for consideration; if it becomes law, it would go into effect September 1.

Ten Republicans crossed party lines Saturday voting against the bill, with some of them saying the near-total ban did not go far enough.

The GOP-authored bill states those seeking an abortion following rape or incest would have to sign an affidavit attesting to the attack.

Indiana presently allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization (or 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period).

It is one of two states, including West Virginia, reconvening special sessions to consider restrictions on abortion since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, finding there was no longer a federal constitutional right to the procedure.

Discussions on Saturday were fiery and emotional at times, replicating debates on the bill from earlier in the week. State senate President Suzanne Crouch, a Republican, threatened to clear the gallery more than once following outbursts of reaction from both inside the session and from protesters gathered outside. CNN affiliate WRTV filmed a large number of protesters gathered and chanting opposition to the bill in the hall. Some held signs reading “my body, my choice,” and “abortion bans replace freedom with force.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Susan Glick, had previously conceded she wasn’t happy with it, and called it a “vehicle bill” on Saturday. Glick said she expects the House will make changes, but added in its current form, the bill is an “expression of where we believe the state of Indiana is right now.” If the state House does make changes to the bill, it would come back to the Senate for another vote.

Democratic state Sen. Jean Breaux called SB1 a “flawed bill” which A “strips a woman of her right to choose.” Breaux added: “The decision whether to have a baby is a complicated balancing of responsibilities and opportunities that must be weighed by each woman, not made by politicians or Supreme Court justices.”

The bill passed out of a Senate committee on Tuesday, with some Republican members voting for the bill but hoping it would be amended.

The committee also held extensive public debate earlier in the week, with dozens of individuals, from doctors to faith leaders to private citizens, voicing their opinions on the bill. While some objected to the bill for the limits it placed on abortion, others opposed the measure over its exceptions or what they described as vague language.

Anti-abortion group National Right to Life and its Indiana affiliate had expressed opposition to the bill prior to it passing the state Senate, calling it “deeply flawed” and a “weak and troubling” measure.

“The bill fails substantively in many areas, including its failure to provide any meaningful enforcement provisions. This bill goes through the motions on paper, but lacks any teeth to actually reduce abortions in Indiana by holding those who perform abortions or would intentionally skirt the law accountable with criminal consequences,” Indiana Right to Life said in a statement.

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