Health Indiana News

Indiana lawmakers are convening for a special session Monday where they’ll consider a bill to restrict abortion services in the state.

Senate Bill 1 would make abortion illegal in almost all cases. It provides exceptions for rape or incest, to save the life of the pregnant patient, or if the fetus isn’t viable.

Bill sponsor Sen. Sue Glick, a Republican from LaGrange, said if passed as written, the law wouldn’t affect access to treatment for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, in-vitro fertilization or birth control, including the morning-after pill.

“Being pro-life is not about criminalizing women,” she said. “It’s about preserving the dignity of life and helping mothers bring happy, healthy babies into the world.”

The session comes one month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, which now gives states the power to decide on abortion laws. 

Speaking during a news conference last week, Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray said the decision “opens arguably the most difficult, polarizing issue that we’ve faced in a generation.”

Democratic state Rep. Rita Fleming, a retired OB-GYN from Jeffersonville, agreed it’s a complex issue. She said she knows there are instances when an abortion is medically necessary. But she also wants to hear more information before voting for this bill. 

“I’d like to hear the conversations that are going on, that [have] started to shape the bill,” she said. “And I think more information needs to be gathered.

“I think we have good legislators who are going to truly listen to their constituents. We can’t make everybody happy but I think we’ll do the best that we can.”

Fleming also said there’s a need for better access to birth control in the state. 

“We have failed women by not giving them access to birth control because we have a means to do it,” she said. 

More than a dozen states had “trigger laws” on the books to restrict abortion if Roe was overturned or weakened. That includes Kentucky, which immediately outlawed all abortions except to save the life of the pregnant patient. The law is currently blocked in state court.

Indiana was not among states with trigger laws in place. But lawmakers reserved the right to come back into special session if Roe was overturned. In March, all but 10 legislators drafted a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb to request the session. 

“As a state that recognizes that life is a precious gift that should never be neglected, it is our desire that you, as the Governor of Indiana, ensure that those values are upheld without delay,” lawmakers said in the letter. “We have a responsibility that our state laws are aligned with the Supreme Court’s decision if Roe v. Wade is wholly, or partially overturned.”

Two days before the supreme court decision, Holcomb called a special session July 6 to consider tax relief. That was later pushed back three weeks, with two other measures included. 

The other proposal, Senate Bill 2, would provide an initial $50 million to state organizations to help provide access to birth control, support adoption and foster care programs, and aid families with young children. 

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.