INDIANAPOLIS – State lawmakers are gearing up for a busy week at the Statehouse, as the legislature will meet for a special session. Top of the agenda are abortion access, funding for social services, and inflation relief.
Republican lawmakers unveiled their proposal to enact a near total ban on abortion, with exceptions. According to Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), His party heard from thousands of people before bringing forward the legislation, Senate Bill 1.
“You have to weigh the right of women to make these decisions, with the right of the child that’s not born yet,” State Sen. Bray said.
The bill allows exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and threats to the mother’s health. More specifically, the procedure would have to “prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life of the mother.”
In a separate bill, Senate Republicans are proposing $50 million in new funding for social services. It’s all, as State Sen. Bray says, to support Hoosier parents and their children. However, he said he’s not sure if the boost can meet long-term goals.
“We don’t necessarily know that it’s going to be adequate off into the future,” State Sen. Bray said. “This is $50 million that will get us just through January.”
Democratic lawmakers are critical of the abortion ban, saying it infringes on women’s rights. Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) argues the bill creates confusion over when abortion is allowed, and could put lives in danger.
“I think this is a clear indication that we are in trouble.” State Sen. Taylor said. “This is not a choice for a woman. This is a choice between life or death when it comes to the health of the woman and that child.”
Although the GOP holds a supermajority in the legislature, not all Republicans is on board. State Sen. Kyle Walker (R-Indianapolis) says he won’t support the bill as it’s currently written.
“My position is to try to find a really balanced approach to this policy,” State Sen. Walker said. “I think that it allows for women to make their own health decisions in the first trimester.”
Meanwhile, legal experts say although women who obtain an illegal abortion wouldn’t face criminal penalties, enforcement remains unclear.
Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) says that discussion on the topic is ongoing, adding that he hasn’t committed to a particular plan.
“…understanding that where we start, is not always where we end,” Gov. Holcomb said in an interview with WLFI. “On a topic that is complex, emotionally understandably charged, that we will have thoughtful conversations understanding that there is a spectrum of thoughts.”
In the midst of the debate, Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to visit the capital on Monday.
As the national abortion debate focuses in on Indiana, state lawmakers are also deciding how to provide inflation relief to Hoosiers. Gov. Holcomb recently published an op-ed urging the legislature to pass a refund quickly so the state can get started rolling checks out as soon as possible.
But, the proposal by Senate Republicans doesn’t include this plan. Instead, they’re offering a six-month suspension on the state gas tax on residential utilities and other items. It’ll be a high-profile discussion, as both chambers have differing solutions.
“Hoosiers need help now in Indiana is in a position to give them back their money,” House Speaker Todd Huston (R) said in a statement.
Watch more on Indiana’s abortion legislation and plans for inflation relief in the video above.