By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - After hours of some of the most emotional testimony in modern history, the Indiana House passed SB1 62-38 Friday afternoon, putting the state on a path to pass some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court relegated Roe to the dustbin of history. The Indiana Senate by a 28-19 vote passed the new restrictions that advocates say will prevent 99% of abortions.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law late Friday night. “Following the overturning of Roe, I stated clearly that I would be willing to support legislation that made progress in protecting life. In my view, SEA 1 accomplishes this goal following its passage in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly with a solid majority of support,” Holcomb said in a statement. The law goes into effect Sept. 15. “These actions followed long days of hearings filled with sobering and personal testimony from citizens and elected representatives on this emotional and complex topic,” he continued. “Ultimately, those voices shaped and informed the final contents of the legislation and its carefully negotiated exceptions to address some of the unthinkable circumstances a woman or unborn child might face.”


As with the case in the Senate, few testified for the bill, with all Democrats and nine socially conservative Republicans opposing the bill for different reasons. "This is a good bill," said Republican Majority Leader Matt Lehman of Berne. "This is going to protect the most vulnerable."

"Tone and tenor matter," said State Rep. Wendy McNamara, the House bill sponsor, who praised Democrats while urging passage. "Ultimately this bill protects the lives of the unborn. Most important, it exemplifies human life. This bill restores faith in humanity in that human life has value."

The rhetorical showdown mirrored that in the Indiana Senate last week. Rep. John Jacob, who was defeated for reelection in the May primary, suggested he was here on this day due to an act of God. "Abortion is evil and barbaric. God called me to this chamber and urged me to be his mouth-piece. I was called here just for this. I get constant pressure to come to the middle and compromise....If you say you are pro-life, then you would be for all lives," Jacob said. "It is a weak and pathetic bill that still kills babies."

State Rep. Ann Vermilion, R-Marion, described himself as pro-life but lined up against SB1 in an emotional address saying she can be simultaneously "pro-life, pro-woman and pro-choice." 

"We are moving too fast for fruitful discussion," said Vermilion, a former hospital executive who is now a medical consultant. "Rushed decisions lead to bad decisions. After these two weeks, I am begging our Republican party to think about the words 'pro-life.' Pro-life cannot mean we have a priority list on life."

Democrat State Rep. Rita Fleming, a retired OB-GYN, described herself as pro-life, but said she could not support SB1 due to unintended consequences.

Rep. Sue Errington and Rep. Renee Pack both said that SB1 will not end abortion, it will make in less safe. "The only abortions you can ban are safe, legal abortions," Errington said. "You should reject this cruel vision in our state. I urge you to vote no."

Rep. Pack added, "They are going to look it up on YouTube. We're back to the haves and the have nots. I implore you to rethink your position. We've already run off teachers; we have 2,000 open positions? Why would doctors stay? why would OB-GYNs stay?"

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, observed, "Republicans have been all about choice. The choice to bear arms. The choice to choose your school. The choice to decide whether you want a vaccination. But they're going to deny women the choice to decide what to do with their bodies."

Rep. Maureen Bauer, D-South Bend, added, "We are told by the Republican supermajority that you cannot legislate morality when it comes to guns, but in two weeks they are taking away women's God-given free will to make her own decisions."

SB1 now moves back to Senate for possible final passage later today.

Shouts of "Shame on you, Indiana" came from the gallery as the House adjourned, but not sine die, which means they can come back later, if need be. The House is adjourned for the day. Senate should convene in about 10 minutes to take up the tax rebate bill; the abortion bill can't come up for four hours.

Developing . . . .