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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Live updates: Indiana special session begins, focused on abortion and inflation

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4:30 p.m., anti-abortion advocates say bill doesn’t go far enough

Anti-abortion activists celebrated the start of Indiana’s special legislative session.

But activists like Cathie Humbarger, former director of Right to Life of northeast Indiana, said the bill does not go far enough. The proposed legislation would ban abortion with limited exceptions in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

“I know people who have been raped. It’s an awful, awful, horrible situation,” Humbarger said. “We need to ask ourselves if the baby should be punished by having its life taken away.”

Letters were read on behalf of U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and two members of Indiana’s congressional delegation in support of state Republicans’ plan to restrict abortion.

4 p.m., Public testimony, protests continue

The committee plans to end today’s hearing at 5 p.m. Indiana Right to Life, one of the state’s most influential anti-abortion groups, is expected to hold a rally on Tuesday.

2:30 p.m. Senate Rules Committee public testimony continues

The public got its first chance to testify on proposed abortion legislation today. More than 250 people signed up to speak in a Senate committee hearing. The committee is expected to suspend testimony later today and resume the meeting tomorrow morning.

In early testimony, no one spoke in support of the bill. Abortion rights advocates oppose the measure as a “threat” to the health of Hoosiers. But many anti-abortion proponents also oppose the bill because they say it doesn’t go far enough. They want a ban with no exceptions.

2 p.m., Protesters continue to gather at Statehouse

Hundreds of protesters gathered inside the Statehouse Monday to oppose plans by state lawmakers to ban abortion in Indiana with few exceptions.

For several hours leading up to the abortion rally, chants of “my body, my choice” could be heard throughout the Statehouse. Protesters were joined by a number of advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates.

Katie Blair is the director of advocacy and policy with the ACLU of Indiana. She said thousands of Hoosiers are against the state legislature’s radical plans to ban abortion.

“The restrictions on abortion here in Indiana are already extreme. We don’t need any more restrictions,” she said. “They need to trash this bill.”

Rebecca Gibron is the CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky.. She said the group will help patients access safe, legal abortion in other states.

“Planned Parenthood across this country is mobilized,” she said. “We are ready, and we will not turn our backs on anyone in this country in a banned state.”

Rima Shahid is the CEO of Women4Change. “I’m here to say: We won’t go back and we won’t back down,” she said.

“The Dobbs ruling will impact people of color and people that don’t have the privilege of economic stability the most.”

1:45 p.m., Vice President Kamala Harris holds roundtable with state Democrats

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris said a proposal from Indiana Republicans to ban nearly all abortions in the state reflects a health care crisis in the country and she met Monday with Democratic state legislators on the first day of a contentious special legislative session on the issue.

Harris traveled to Indianapolis as several thousand people on both sides of the issue filled Statehouse corridors and lined sidewalks surrounding the building as a state Senate committee was set to begin hearing testimony on the Republican-sponsored proposal.

Indiana is one of the first Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last month overturning Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

“Maybe some people need to actually learn how a woman’s body works,” Harris said Monday, eliciting murmurs and laughs from the Democratic legislators. “The parameters that are being proposed mean that for the vast majority of women, by the time she realizes she is pregnant, she will be prohibited from having access to reproductive health care that will allow her to choose what will happen to her life.”

Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta said the proposed ban would have “drastic consequences for women, especially for women of color and low-income women, who are already disproportionately impacted by getting adequate health care access.”

Indiana’s Republican Senate leaders proposed a bill last week that would prohibit 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 firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to end her pregnancy.

“She is 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 case of the Ohio girl gained wide attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child had to go to Indiana because Ohio banned abortions at the first detectable “fetal heartbeat” after the Supreme Court’s abortion decision.

The ultimate fate of the Indiana abortion bill in the Republican-dominated Legislature is uncertain, as leaders of Indiana Right to Life, the state’s most prominent anti-abortion group, are decrying the Senate proposal as weak and lacking enforcement provisions.

Republican Senate leaders said the bill would not add new criminal penalties against doctors involved with abortions, but they would face possibly having their medical licenses revoked for breaking the law.

– Tom Davies and Arleigh Rodgers, Associated Press

1 p.m.

The special legislative session began at 1 p.m. with public testimony on SB 1, a bill that would ban abortion with limited exceptions.

The hearing is expected to last at least four hours and will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Read More: Local Black faith leaders have varying stances on abortion

12:30 p.m. , Bans of Indiana rally begins, VP leads roundtable discussion

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates and Women4Change Indiana’s “Bans of Indiana” rally began inside the Statehouse at 11:30 a.m. Hundreds of protestors gathered to call for abortion rights to remain legal and accessible in Indiana.

At the Indiana State Library, Vice President Kamala Harris met with the Indiana Democratic Caucus.

“This has created a health care crisis in America … around our country, we are seeing so many states trying to criminalize health officials and punish woman,” Harris told lawmakers.

11 a.m.. anti-abortion advocates gather at Statehouse ahead of special session

A small crowd of anti-abortion advoctes gathered inside the Statehouse Monday morning.

Representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun and U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski and Jim Banks read statements in support of the proposed legislation.

A rally organized by Indiana Right to Life, one of the state’s most influential anti-abortion groups, is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Statehouse’s south atrium.

Outside the Statehouse, a long line formed of people waiting to go inside for a public hearing on the proposed abortion ban, which begins at 1 p.m. and is expected to last at least four hours.

9:30 a.m.

Indiana lawmakers convene today to begin a special legislative session to discuss inflation relief and an abortion ban following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Last week, lawmakers shared their proposed legislation. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports, the bills would:

  • Ban abortion in Indiana, with limited exceptions in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.
  • Create a new $45 million Hoosier Families First Fund for organizations that provides services and support to pregnant Hoosiers.
  • Suspend the 7 percent sales tax on electricity, water, gas, internet and phone bills for six months.
  • Cap the state sales tax on gasoline through June 2023.

Protests and rallies from abortions rights and anti-abortion groups are planned in and around the Statehouse. Vice President Kamala Harris is also expected to meet with lawmakers in Indianapolis today. The vice president has spoken about reproductive health care rights and abortion access with lawmakers in five states with Republican-controlled legislatures and governors, including Indiana.  

For live updates from the Statehouse, follow Brandon Smith @brandonjsmith5 and Abriana Herron @abri_onyai on Twitter.

This post will be updated throughout the day

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