Indiana abortion ban takes effect Thursday

(NewsNation) — A near-total abortion ban will go into effect Thursday in Indiana, the first state to pass a law outlawing the procedure following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The state legislature convened in a special session earlier this summer to craft the law, which includes limited exceptions for rape and incest and the life of the mother. The exceptions are limited to 10 weeks post-fertilization.

Under the new law, the procedure will only be permitted in a hospital or outpatient facility owned by a hospital, meaning abortion clinics will lose their licenses. Doctors who perform an illegal abortion would lose their medical license and could face felony charges punishable by up to six years in prison.

Republicans, who hold a supermajority in the legislature, had been divided over including exceptions beyond those for the life of the mother.

Similar divides over exceptions and criminal penalties for doctors delayed bills in South Carolina and West Virginia earlier this summer. West Virginia lawmakers approved a ban Tuesday, and Gov. Jim Justice is expected to sign it.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe and states’ subsequent bans have galvanized voters over the past three months, giving Democrats a boost in the polls ahead of the midterm elections. In Kansas, voters rejected by a wide margin a constitutional amendment that would have given legislators the power to ban abortions.

The issue has left Republicans on the defense, but in an attempt to flip the script, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday introduced legislation that would impose a nationwide 15-week ban with limited exceptions. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on the proposal, saying many in his caucus prefer the matter be dealt with at the state level.

As for Indiana’s ban, Gov. Eric Holcomb said in August it accomplishes his goal of “protecting life.”

“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 said. “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.”

The ACLU of Indiana said after the bill’s passage it was “a dark day in the state of Indiana,” adding in a tweet that the near-ban on abortion turns “back the clock 50 years on Hoosiers’ fundamental right to control their own bodies.”

The ACLU and abortion clinics have filed two lawsuits, one arguing the ban violates the state constitution and another arguing it conflicts with a religious freedom law the state passed in 2015. A hearing on a motion for a preliminary injection in the first lawsuit has been set for Monday. A hearing has been set in the second lawsuit for mid-October.

Indiana’s ban was met with backlash by some employers in the state, including drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co., which said it would look outside the state for new business opportunities. The company said the ban would hinder its ability to bring “diverse scientific, engineering and business talent” to Indiana.