INDIANAPOLIS — (AP) — Thousands of people discussing the issue of abortion surrounded the Indiana Statehouse and filled its halls Monday as state lawmakers began considering a Republican proposal to ban almost all abortions in the state and Vice President Kamala Harris denounced the effort during a meeting with Democratic lawmakers.
Harris said during a trip to Indianapolis that the proposed abortion ban reflected a health care crisis in the country. Despite the bill’s language banning abortion, anti-abortion activists lined up before a legislative committee to argue that the bill was not tough enough and lacked enforcement.
Indiana is one of the first Republican-led state legislatures to debate tougher abortion laws following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month overturning Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court ruling is expected to result in the banning of abortion in about half of the states.
“Maybe some people need to learn how a woman’s body works,” Harris said Monday, prompting murmurs and laughter from Democratic lawmakers. “The parameters that are proposed mean that for the vast majority of women, by the time they find out they are pregnant, they will effectively be barred from accessing reproductive health care that will allow them to choose what happens to his body.”
Confrontations have erupted periodically between anti-abortion and abortion-rights protesters around the Indiana Statehouse. A person carrying a cardboard message – ‘Forced birth is violence’ – followed a man, who was carrying a red fake fetus in a plastic bag over his shoulder, and tried to hide his sign which read ‘Save our babies “.
Some people had heated arguments surrounded by other protesters
“You think you should dictate my life and the lives of my children. That’s what you say,” Kait Schultz, who was wearing a dark gray “Pregnant and Pissed” shirt, shouted at Christopher Monaghan.
“You don’t want to have a conversation,” Monaghan replied as they talked over each other. He was holding a vertical sign that read “Babies Lives Matter.”
Elsewhere on Monday, Republican-majority lawmakers in West Virginia raced to push forward legislation that would criminalize abortion with few exceptions. A bill introduced Monday makes abortion a crime punishable by 10 years in prison. It provides exceptions only in cases where there is an ectopic pregnancy, a “non-medically viable fetus” or a medical emergency.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice abruptly added the state’s abortion law to the state Legislature’s agenda for a special session he called Monday to focus on its income tax reduction plan.
In her announcement, Justice called on lawmakers to “clarify and modernize” the nation’s abortion laws in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. A week ago, a Charleston judge blocked enforcement of the 150-year-old abortion ban, saying recent laws enacted by the West Virginia legislature “hopelessly conflict with the ban. criminal abortion”.
In Tennessee, meanwhile, the attorney general’s office said it’s still unclear when the state’s anti-abortion trigger ban will go into effect, but some state lawmakers are alarmed that the ban has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
Tennessee has restricted abortion as early as the sixth week of pregnancy – when most women don’t know they are pregnant – since the US Supreme Court ruling on abortion last month. Republican Gov. Bill Lee last week refused to answer questions from reporters about his support for the Trigger Act change, including avoiding whether he supported exempting children who were raped and then fell pregnant.
In Wyoming, a lawsuit filed Monday by a women’s health clinic of Casper and others seeks to block the state’s new abortion ban just before it takes effect. The lawsuit claims the new law violates the state constitution with restrictions that will discourage potentially life-saving pregnancy care in Wyoming, forcing pregnant women to travel to other states for necessary procedures.
Indiana Republican Senate leaders proposed a bill last week that would ban abortions from the time an egg is implanted in a woman’s uterus with limited exceptions – in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. The proposal followed the political storm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to terminate her pregnancy.
“He’s a baby,” Democratic Rep. Cherrish Pryor of Indianapolis, one of the lawmakers at the meeting with Harris, said of the child. “Why should we force babies to have babies? »
The Ohio girl’s case drew attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child had to travel to Indiana because Ohio had banned first ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortions. detectable after the Supreme Court’s abortion decision.
The ultimate fate of Indiana’s abortion bill in the Republican-dominated Legislature is uncertain, as leaders of Indiana Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group , denounce the Senate’s proposal as weak and lacking in implementing provisions.
Republican Senate leaders said the bill would not add new criminal penalties for doctors involved in abortions, but they could potentially have their medical license revoked for breaking the law.
Many anti-abortion activists opposed the inclusion of the exceptions allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest.
“I don’t believe children should be murdered because of their status of conception,” Emma Duell of Noblesville told the Senate committee. “What happened the night they were conceived, something over which they have no control, should not affect whether or not they are protected from abortion-related violence.”
Republican Senator Sue Glick, sponsor of the abortion ban bill, said she expects amendments to be considered to tighten the exceptions ahead of the Senate’s expected vote on the proposal later. this week.
Representatives from several physician groups have raised concerns that Indiana’s proposal could be challenged and sued for their medical decisions.
Ariel Ream of Indianapolis said she was undergoing fertility treatment and feared the abortion ban would put her health at risk if she were to miscarry and face bleeding.
“When do I have enough bleeding to be able to get treatment?” said Ram. “We don’t know if you go to the ER, that doctor will be scared enough to put his license on the line for me.”
Arleigh Rodgers is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Arleigh Rodgers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers
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