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Indiana becomes the first state to approve an abortion ban post-Roe


Indiana lawmakers worked late into the night yesterday to pass an abortion ban. Gov. Eric Holcomb quickly signed the law, and it makes Indiana the first state to enact new restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this summer. That comes on the heels of a vote in Kansas that rejected efforts to restrict abortion. NPR national correspondent Sarah McCammon, who covers abortion rights, joins us. Sarah, thanks for being with us.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Tell us about this new law. Is it a total ban? How is it different from other abortion bans that have been taking effect over the last few weeks?

MCCAMMON: So as you know, a growing number of states have been implementing abortion bans that were already on the books before the Supreme Court decision. What's different here is that this law is new. Indiana lawmakers just passed it during a special session at their governor's urging in response to the end of Roe v. Wade. So what it means is that in a few weeks, nearly all abortions will be illegal in Indiana after the law takes effect on Sept. 15. It has a few, narrow exceptions for rape or incest in some situations and certain severe medical complications. But generally, doctors who violate it could face felony charges and jail time.

SIMON: How strong was support for this bill in the legislature?

MCCAMMON: Well, pretty strong within the legislature. You know, Republicans solidly control both chambers as well as the governor's mansion. But outside, Scott, you know, there's a bigger picture and a more complicated picture. This special session in Indiana came on the heels of the high-profile case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who'd been a victim of rape. She'd come to Indiana for an abortion after Ohio's ban took effect. And this means that Indiana will no longer be an option for children like her. So in his signing statement, Indiana Gov. Holcomb appeared to allude to situations like that. He said the bill was passed after a hearing - after hearings that included, you know, hours of public testimony and that it was based on, quote, "carefully negotiated exceptions to address some of the unthinkable circumstances a woman or unborn child might face."

SIMON: What's the reaction been like after the governor so quickly signed the law?

MCCAMMON: Well, abortion rights advocates are warning these restrictions will put patients at risk. The ACLU of Indiana is promising to fight back. They issued a statement noting that abortion laws in multiple states are facing legal challenges and promising to, quote, "evaluate every legal avenue available to defend abortion access." But as for public opinion, there's not a whole lot of good, recent data from Indiana on this issue. But the polls I've seen suggest that voters, at minimum, are quite a bit more supportive of abortion rights than their state lawmakers are.

SIMON: What about other states? How does this fit into that picture?

MCCAMMON: So there continues to be just a flurry of debate and litigation around this issue. Some of those lawsuits I mentioned challenging abortion bans in other states have succeeded in at least temporarily blocking or delaying abortion bans. But in some places, things are very much in flux. And this Indiana law comes just days after that vote in Kansas where voters resoundingly said no to efforts to restrict abortion there. So it'll be interesting, Scott, to see what voters do in states like Kentucky in November, another red state where abortion will be on the ballot.

SIMON: NPR's Sarah McCammon, thanks so much for being with us.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.