Indiana made headlines recently becoming the first state to vote on abortion legislation since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June. Many conservative states already had legislation, or “trigger laws” in place in the event Roe would be overturned, but Indiana is the first state to call a special session specifically to discuss reproductive rights for the state. 

What was the federal ruling on abortion?

Roe v. Wade overturned the federal right to abortion on June 24, leaving abortion legislation up to individual states. Before Roe was overturned, abortion was legal in Indiana up to 22 weeks gestation. Once Roe was overturned, Indiana lawmakers called a special session in which they determined a near-total ban on abortion in Indiana. It should be noted that the majority of Hoosiers, nearly 78%, are against these harsh bans.

What does the new abortion ruling in Indiana look like?

The special session lasted two weeks. The proposed abortion ban went through several iterations before determining that all abortion is illegal in the state of Indiana except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and when the life of the pregnant person is in danger. In cases of these exceptions, however, the abortion can only be performed up to 10 weeks gestation.

Earlier cases of this bill proposed a ban with these exceptions, saying that people 15 and under who fit the category of these exceptions had 12 weeks to seek an abortion, while people 16 and older only had 8. This earlier version also said that rape and incest survivors had to obtain an affidavit proving they had been harmed before receiving this medical care. That version was changed when the bill reached the House, however, leaving the 10-week exception, and no need for an affidavit. 

The final bill, known as SB1, despite being extremely restrictive, left the majority of Republicans wanting a stricter bill with absolutely no exceptions for rape or incest, no matter the age of the victim. No Democrats voted in favor of SB1.

What is the punishment for breaking this bill?

The bill also moved to terminate the licensing of abortion clinics in the state. Survivors of rape or incest, or pregnant people whose life is in danger must now seek an abortion before 10 weeks at either a hospital or outpatient surgery center. Practitioners who perform an illegal abortion can be charged with a Class 5 Felony, earning 1-6 years in prison, or up to a $10,000 fine. The person seeking the abortion would have any penalties, however. The bill goes into effect on September 15.

What are the expectations for this ruling?

Although the Republican lawmakers who voted for SB1 to pass all said this is a pro-life choice that will help women and babies, this bill will harm many people. The decision and reasoning behind seeking an abortion are incredibly nuanced and individual, something a single bill as restrictive as this cannot take into account. This bill says that if a child is abused and becomes pregnant, they only have 10 weeks to seek an abortion. Most people do not know they are pregnant until five or six weeks, and for others, it takes longer. If the pregnant person has irregular periods, for example, it can take longer to know you are pregnant. Or if you are a child who is being abused and doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation or how reproduction works, it could take longer to know you are pregnant. 

This law could potentially force a child who has been a victim of abuse to carry a child. If the child is young enough, their body likely would not be able to carry a pregnancy to full term, so being pregnant would put their life at risk. Could they still legally get an abortion in Indiana if they realize they are pregnant after 10 weeks even though staying pregnant and giving birth would likely kill them? It’s unclear at this point. 

Are there any exceptions?

The language in the bill making exceptions for when the life of the pregnant person is at risk is far too vague to allow abortion providers to act quickly in a life-threatening situation. Who decides when the pregnant person’s life is at risk? How close to death do they need to be “at risk” enough? Is the pregnant person’s mental health considered a factor? What if they experience suicidal ideation while pregnant? Is that “at risk” enough to seek a legal abortion in our state?

For example, the only way to treat an ectopic pregnancy is abortion, otherwise, the pregnant person will hemorrhage and die. This is a time-sensitive issue. What if someone shows up to the hospital, already bleeding, and has to wait for my doctor to call their lawyer to make sure them providing life-saving medical care is okay if it’s past the 10-week window? Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is the third highest in the country. It is alarming and dangerous that this restrictive bill lives in a state with such a high maternal mortality rate.

Can you travel to another state for an abortion?

Some people might question why abortion needs to be legal in a red state if it is legal in other places. Couldn’t a pregnant person travel outside the state to receive medical care if needed? Technically yes, but most people do not have the resources for that. In the example I mentioned above, a lot of the time, abortion can be extremely time-sensitive life-saving medical care. Someone would need medical attention immediately if there is an infection or hemorrhaging at risk. 

Most people do not have the expendable income to take time off work and travel to another state for a medical procedure. If the person seeking abortion already has children at home, it is unlikely that they can take time off work, pay for childcare, drive their car or take a bus across state lines, pay for a hotel room, and have the procedure, then make their way home. Because of these barriers, it is very likely that unsafe abortions will happen. You cannot outlaw abortion, you can only outlaw safe abortions. 

Reproductive rights affect everyone

Although this law is incredibly restrictive and does indeed affect all people with the capacity to get pregnant, it will disproportionally affect low-income people. The reality is, that reproductive rights affect everyone. Whether you have the capacity to get pregnant or not, reproductive rights affect your access to birth control and medical care. This law will likely have a ripple effect, affecting people’s healthcare, and affecting corporations’ involvement in Indiana. Indianapolis is known for hosting a lot of conferences, and people are predicting an adverse effect on Indiana’s economy. People predict that it will be hard to recruit businesses and corporations to invest in Indiana when reproductive healthcare here is unsafe. 

This bill goes into effect on September 15. Until then, abortions are still safe and legal in Indiana.

On May 2, reported that an initial draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court had been leaked. This draft opinion stated that the Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe V. Wade. This is a draft, meaning this overturn has not happened yet, but it is very likely, almost certain, that it will a few months from now when it is finalized by the Court. 

What is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade is a 1973 case that federally legalized abortion in the United States. Overturning Roe v. Wade would make abortion illegal federally, meaning that it would be up to each individual state to determine its own abortion laws. This is incredibly alarming for reproductive health, as well as the safety and health of people with uteruses. 

Experts are concerned for many reasons, based on the logic in the draft. The arguments the draft uses with its case to overturn Roe deal with a person’s right to choose. This same logic could potentially be used to overturn same-sex marriage, as well as interracial marriage in the future, although, at this point, that is just speculation.

Where have we seen this before?

Over the last several years, we have seen states enact incredibly strict abortion laws, such as the law in Missouri attempting to make it illegal to seek an abortion to treat an ectopic pregnancy (the only treatment for this type of pregnancy), as well as harsh laws in Texas and other conservative states making it illegal for someone to seek an abortion after only six weeks. Many people don’t even know they are pregnant after six weeks, and abortion is safe anytime within the first trimester, which is much longer than six weeks. If or when this draft passes, what does this mean for reproductive health?

How could this change reproductive rights?

This proposed overturning of Roe is troubling for many reasons. Many people and lawmakers that oppose abortion and seek to enact strict laws making seeking an abortion difficult identify as “pro-life.” If someone has an ectopic pregnancy, a non-viable pregnancy when the fetus grows outside of the uterus, the only treatment is an abortion. If the pregnant person does not abort the non-viable fetal tissue, it will rupture and they will most likely die. If someone is raped or a victim of incest, I would argue an abortion would be life-saving for the victim. Both of these examples directly contrast the pro-life argument. 

Why is this a matter of safety?

Before Roe, people were still having abortions, they were just incredibly unsafe. Women would use coat hangers or other sharp objects to try and puncture the cervix and abort on their own. Oftentimes these women would hemorrhage and die. Roe guarantees access to safe and legal abortions where women could make the choice, for whatever reason, to safely end a pregnancy without threatening their health. In fact, in the United States, abortion is safer than giving birth. Overturning Roe would threaten that. 

What could it mean if Roe is overturned?

With the federal law being overturned, it would be up to each individual state to make its own abortion laws. This likely means that conservative states would make abortion illegal or enforce strict laws about when someone can have an abortion, while more liberal states would stay legal. I am of course speculating, as this hasn’t gone into effect yet. If someone in a red state wanted to seek a legal abortion, they could potentially receive one if they traveled to a blue state. 

This might sound like a minor inconvenience, but it is not. In order to travel to another state for this procedure, you’d need to be able to take time off work, have access to a car, as well as money to pay for a hotel room in this other state. If you already have children, you need money to pay for childcare, or money to have a large enough hotel room so they can come with you. What if your job doesn’t give you time off, or taking a day off and traveling to another state means having to choose between making your rent payment or being forced to give birth? Privileged, wealthy women will still be able to access abortion once this goes into effect, but there are so many women who will not have that privilege. 

Could this affect contraception access?

I also worry that this will cause other laws not based on science regulating women’s reproductive health to go into effect. Louisiana is speculating about criminalizing IUDs and Plan B as part of their new abortion bill changing the state’s legal definition of human life. IUDs and Plan B, as well as every other type of birth control and emergency contraceptives, do not abort an already fertilized egg or fetus. These contraceptives prevent fertilization and implantation in the uterus from ever happening, meaning they prevent pregnancy. Period. Contraceptives are literally not abortion, however, conservative male lawmakers don’t seem to care about science. 

Having varying opinions on whether or not you as an individual would have an abortion is your right. You know what is best for you and your body. Male politicians who will never have the experience of being pregnant should not have a say in creating laws that force pregnancy and birth. The right to choose what we do with our bodies is just that – a right. Reproductive rights affect everyone, whether you have the capacity to get pregnant or not. If you have sex with people that can get pregnant, this draft affects you too. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not stop abortions. It will only stop safe abortions. This will kill women. Comprehensive sex education, as well as access to free or low-cost contraceptives, will stop abortions.

Here is the full Politico article outlining the specific arguments the Supreme Court used in its draft. If you have questions about abortion or reproductive health care, ask your doctor or visit Planned Parenthood. Those are both great resources for reproductive healthcare, even if you just have questions.

On March 10, 2022, Missouri state representative Brian Seitz proposed a bill that would make it illegal for women to have an abortion to treat an ectopic pregnancy. The only way to treat an ectopic pregnancy is to abort the fetus. If it is left untreated, the woman carrying the fetus could die. 

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants somewhere outside of the uterus where it is supposed to grow. Most commonly, ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes where the eggs are carried to the ovaries and uterus, but the fertilized egg can also incorrectly implant in the abdominal cavity or cervix. The fertilized egg will not survive in this kind of pregnancy, and if left untreated, the ectopic pregnancy can rupture, causing bleeding that is life-threatening to the mother. 

If someone is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, it can be treated through an injection of a medicine that will dissolve the tissue of the egg. If there are other complications or the pregnancy was farther along, the tissue must be removed through a laparoscopic procedure. Both of these treatments are technically abortions, as they remove the tissue from the mother’s body. There is absolutely no way this tissue can grow into a child, and if it is left in the mother’s body, it will lead to a rupture and potentially kill the mother. There are literally no other options for treating this type of pregnancy, as it is not viable and is life-threatening.

What is the ectopic pregnancy abortion bill?

Despite all of this information, Mr. Seitz proposed HB 2810, making it a class A felony if a woman has an abortion after 10 weeks, or if she has an abortion to treat ectopic pregnancy. In Missouri, the jail time for class A felonies ranges from 10 to 30 years. Mr. Seitz’s proposed bill would literally kill any woman that had an ectopic pregnancy and resulting complications. 

When he presented the bill and was told that it is impossible to treat an ectopic pregnancy any other way, Seitz replied saying, “They don’t have the hospital machinery to tell if this is an ectopic pregnancy. They might just think it’s a normal pregnancy, and they want to abort that child. I would like to see that sort of unlawful activity stopped.” This is untrue. Ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed via ultrasound and blood tests. After receiving further pushback, Seitz claims that his bill was misrepresented. 

Making decisions about women’s health

Since this proposed bill is based on no medical facts and would quite literally harm the person who is pregnant, it is unlikely it will pass. It is still terrifying and incredibly frustrating that a bill like this can be proposed in the first place. Politicians should not make decisions about women’s health, especially male politicians who very clearly have no idea what they are talking about or know how the female reproductive system works. Medical decisions should be left up to the person being treated and their doctor. 

For a politician that claims to be pro-life, this bill is quite literally the opposite. It is dangerous for the woman with an ectopic pregnancy, and it is baffling that Seitz doubled down on his ignorance when questioned about the bill, proving he truly has no clue what he is talking about, nor has he considered the repercussions of this harmful and deadly bill.