Indiana's restrictive abortion bill advances despite protests

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(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.) — Indiana lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday that would ban nearly all abortions in the state.

The 7-5 vote by the Indiana Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee took place after members heard arguments from over 50 individuals who protested the bill’s current state.

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Indianapolis on Monday to meet with lawmakers about the bill.

The bill, which bans all abortions from the moment of conception with exceptions for rape, incest, threats to the mother’s health or fatal fetal abnormalities, was amended on Monday.

One amendment restricts the rape and incest exceptions to within the first eight weeks of pregnancy for those aged 16 and older and 12 weeks for those under 16.

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The bill was also amended to require those who are victims of rape and incest, including minors, to sign an affidavit in order to receive an abortion. The affidavit will become part of the patient’s permanent medical records.

The committee also voted not to allow telehealth medicine to be used for women seeking abortions within the outlines of the new law.

There were a number of amendments the committee did not hear, including one that allows for religious exceptions.

The amendment was backed by State Sen. Eddie Melton, who cited the testimony of Rabbi Aaron Spiegel. The bill was against the beliefs of Judaism, according to Spiegel.

The bill passed despite opposition from Indiana Democrats.

“When we started this process, I thought we were going down the road to protect girls and women. I see the strategy here and I’m not going to support it. This is dangerous,” Democratic State Sen. Greg Taylor said leading up to the vote.

“This bill is not about life, it’s about control,” lawmaker Shelli Yoder, a Democrat, said at the hearing. “Give people time to process what they are about to do.”

State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, a Republican, voted in favor of the bill but expressed disagreements with its current form.

“I have been physically sick to my stomach listening to these discussions,” Charbonneau said at the hearing. “After two days of testimony, no one has been able or willing to shift from two very extreme positions.”

Charbonneau added that despite being a “devout Catholic” himself, the testimony in favor of abortion bans over the last two days troubled him.

“How can religious freedom only apply to certain religions?” Charbonneau said before voting in favor of the bill.

The bill will now go to the Senate floor, where it is expected to pass.

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