Indiana passes near-absolute abortion ban: What you need to know

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The Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 1, which puts a near-absolute ban on abortion in Indiana. The act was passed on June 30 and enforced across the state the following day. According to NPR, this bill was put into effect for one week last year before being halted by court challenges up until now.

While not outlawing abortions entirely, SEA 1 states that there are very few instances in which it can be performed. The act says an abortion is only legal if it is within the first 20 weeks after fertilization, the abortion is necessary to prevent any serious health risk of the pregnant woman, it would save the pregnant woman’s life or the fetus is diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly.

If a minor seeks out an abortion, they must have parental or guardian approval. However, this is not required if the minor was raped by a parent, guardian or custodian of the unemancipated minor according to IGA. There is also an exception to the ban if means of fertilization are due to in vitro fertilization as specified in the senate enrolled act according to IGA. This amendment went into effect Sept. 15.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, looking towards states such as Illinois and Minnesota which have created laws with protection in mind may bring some ease to those seeking an abortion in cases of emergency. Associate Professor of Political Science Laura Merrifield Wilson said there are still resources available to those who are seeking the procedure. 

“Being prohibited in Indiana doesn’t mean it’s not available elsewhere, and there are states in the United States that have expanded access since Dobbs v. Jackson,” Merrifield Wilson said. “But if you look at a state like Ohio, [abortion laws are] as restrictive there, if not more so. So for people to whom this applies, it doesn’t mean you can’t get an abortion, it means you can’t get one in Indiana, and you do have to seek outside availability in terms of [other] states.”

Dobbs v. Jackson being overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2022 was the turning point in the subsequent overruling of Roe v. Wade, according to the National Library of Medicine. This decision allowed states to decide the laws surrounding abortion themselves, according to the New York Times. All the conservative states needed was permission to enforce their bans, according to Merrifield Wilson.

“[The abortion ban] was specifically reactionate to Dobbs v. Jackson, which the U.S. Supreme Court said [abortion rights are] a state level decision,” Merrifield Wilson said. “Since it overturned Roe v. Wade which said it was a constitutional right at the federal level. This was the moment for conservative states to say, ‘Perfect, we’ve been wanting to ban it. Now, we have the constitutional authority to do so.’”

In order to get an abortion, Indiana residents must meet the requirements that the fetus is within the first 20 weeks after fertilization, the abortion is necessary to protect the pregnant person or the fetus is diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In addition to that, one must make two visits 18 hours apart. The first visit is for in-person counseling and the second is for the procedure. State Medicaid insurance, as well as private insurance, will not apply in most cases, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Additionally, the six abortion clinics throughout the state are no longer able to provide abortion services, as the procedure must be provided by a physician instead.

For people who are scared of what the abortion ban could mean for their other rights, Merrifield Wilson said the law was made specifically as a response to Roe v. Wade being overturned.

“I mean, that decision is pretty specific to abortion,” Merrifield Wilson said, “but there’s a lot of concern, and probably well-founded and justified, but what else would they be able to ban or limit?” 

Voters have shared their worry and fear that their voices are not being heard. Planned Parenthood said that 50% of Indiana Voters identify as pro-choice, based on a 2019 phone poll. Merrifield Wilson said she encourages everyone to use their voice and right to vote.

“First and foremost for anyone, I’d say make sure you vote,” Merrifield Wilson said. “It’s not enough now just to vote in the general election, because you may not have a lot of choices … Quite frankly, I’d encourage people to run for office or to work for candidates to support the candidates that they love … Then in voting, in running for office, in supporting the candidates you’re going to see a policy change. Laws can be changed very easily, but you have to have lawmakers that want to change them, and you have to have constituents who put pressure on the lawmakers to change them.”

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