INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would ban abortion with limited exceptions.
Republican members of the Senate Rules committee approved changes to the legislation Tuesday that would narrow those exceptions further and add criminal penalties.
The bill allows exceptions for rape, incest and substantial permanent risk to the mother’s health.
Under an amendment approved Tuesday, doctors could be charged with a Level 5 felony for any illegal abortion.
Lawmakers have also set deadlines for rape or incest victims to obtain an abortion. A pregnant person under age 16 would have until 12 weeks post fertilization. For Hoosiers age 16 and older, that time limit drops to eight weeks.
All but one Republican on the committee, Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) voted in favor of the change.
Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) was asked how those deadlines were decided.
“No, not arbitrarily chosen,” Bray told reporters. “I think eight weeks is about the heartbeat level and … I think people had concerns about going out too far.”
Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) emotionally voted no.
“You’re going to traumatize them again at 16 years old,” Taylor said.
After the changes were made, the Senate Rules committee voted mostly along party lines to advance the bill to the full Senate. Messmer was again the only Republican to join Democrats in voting no.
But several Republicans who voted to move the legislation forward say they still have concerns and may not support the bill going forward without changes.
“How can religious freedom only apply to certain religions?” said State Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso). I struggle with that.”
The bill’s author, State Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) acknowledged it’s a work in progress.
“Nobody’s completely happy with any piece of legislation I think,” Glick said. “We have to look at all the possibilities and all the ramifications of what we do here.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration. More amendments will be introduced, and a vote on the bill is expected by the end of the week.