More than three dozen Hoosiers spent hours testifying Monday at the first public hearing on Indiana’s proposed abortion ban. And not a single one spoke in favor of the bill.
Anti-abortion rights advocates say the bill doesn’t go far enough. People like Emma Duell, a student at Noblesville, don’t believe in compromise on this issue. They want a ban on abortion, with no exceptions.
“I don’t believe it’s moral and I don’t believe it’s fair. I don’t believe children should be murdered based on the circumstances of their conception,” Duell said. “What happened the night they were conceived – something over which they have no control – should not affect whether or not they are protected from abortion-related violence.
Many anti-abortion advocates have cited their Christian faith in their testimonies. But so are religious leaders like the Reverend Gray Lesesne, dean and rector of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis. He said banning abortion would endanger the lives of members of his congregation.
“I ask that you give Hoosier women and expectant mothers the dignity and respect to make these difficult decisions with their doctors, families and faith communities,” Lesesne said.
Almost every major health care provider organization in Indiana opposed the bill.
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Doctors and nurses testified at the hearing, representing groups including the Indiana State Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — all opposed to the measure.
Maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr Mary Abernathy said an abortion ban would increase maternal and child mortality.
“I worry that obstetrics providers in rural areas will simply decide to stop providing maternity care or choose never to start again with our program,” Abernathy said. “I’m afraid they’re worried about breaking the law, .”
Still, a few doctors have testified against the bill because they want a tougher ban on abortion. Dr Tyler Johnson said the language of the measure was too vague. He’s on the ballot this fall, seeking to become a state senator. And he said an exception in the bill that allows abortions if there is a risk to the life of the pregnant person will be “manipulated”.
“The question we’re really debating is whether life has inherent value before we were born,” Johnson said.
Some who testified wanted the bill to go further not only by restricting abortion but other medical care. This includes access to the morning after pill – known as Plan B – and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Fort Wayne high school student Marek Kizer called the treatment “idolatrous.”
“I must warn you: the Bible says that on those who love violence, God will rain fire and brimstone,” Kizer said.
Ariel Ream is an Indianapolis resident who is undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment. She said she was at high risk of complications if she became pregnant. And she said she might have to stop trying to get pregnant if the bill becomes law.
“I can’t tell you what it means to me when my husband says, ‘I’m scared to have a baby through IVF because I don’t know if you’re going to live and I don’t know if I can get the care you need in time to survive it,” Ream said. “It’s just too vague. When is it enough? When do I have enough bleeding to get treatment?”
A Senate committee will gather further testimony on the bill on Tuesday before voting on it.
The hearing took place against the backdrop of Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Indianapolis to discuss abortion and the thousands of protesters who gathered on Capitol Hill both in foster of and versus access to abortion care.
This story has been updated.