INDIANAPOLIS - As Indiana lawmakers debated before becoming the first state to pass a near total abortion ban since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, one lawmaker proposed an amendment to outlaw the sale of drugs for erectile dysfunction and sexual impotence.
"Some may think this is a joke, but it takes two for a pregnancy to come about, and to put all the onus onto a woman, I just think it’s unfair," Indiana Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis, told his fellow legislators. "We’re forcing young girls to be mothers but not forcing the men to be fathers. If in fact pregnancy is an act of god, then impotency must be an act of god."
The amendment, which did not pass, was one of more than 80 presented by lawmakers during the hours-long debate.
The abortion ban, which takes effect Sept. 15, includes some exceptions. Abortions would be permitted in cases of rape and incest, before 10-weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly. Victims of rape and incest would not be required to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to an attack, as had once been proposed.
Indiana Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis (Photo credit: Indiana House Democratic Caucus)
Under the bill, abortions can be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals, meaning all abortion clinics would lose their licenses. A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file required reports must also lose their medical license — wording that tightens current Indiana law that says a doctor "may" lose their license.
Indiana was among the earliest Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling in June that removed constitutional protections for the procedure. But it is the first state to pass a ban through both chambers, after West Virginia lawmakers on July 29 passed up the chance to be that state.
Eight Republicans joined all 11 Democrats in voting against the bill, though their reasons to thwart the measure were mixed.
"We are backsliding on democracy," said Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis, who wore a green ribbon Friday signifying support for abortion rights, on her lapel. "What other freedoms, what other liberties are on the chopping block, waiting to be stripped away?"
Republican Sen. Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores spoke about his 21-year-old-daughter, who has Down syndrome. Bohacek voted against the bill, saying it does not have adequate protections for women with disabilities who are raped.
"If she lost her favorite stuffed animal, she’d be inconsolable. Imagine making her carry a child to term," he said before he started to choke up, then threw his notes on his seat and exited the chamber.
The debates came amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans face some party divisions and Democrats see a possible election-year boost.
Republican Rep. Wendy McNamara of Evansville, who sponsored the House bill, told reporters after the House vote that the legislation "makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the nation."
A day after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law, Eli Lilly, one of Indiana’s largest employers, said the pharmaceutical company will be "forced to plan for more employment growth outside our home state" when the abortion ban takes effect.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.