INDIANAPOLIS — The cries of hundreds of pro-abortion rights activists filled the Senate chambers Saturday morning as lawmakers debated the future of abortion access in the Hoosier state.
During all four hours of debate, they chanted, booed, and made their voices heard.
The bill being debated, Senate Bill 1, is a near-total ban on abortion in the state of Indiana. The only exceptions would be for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
If the bill passed as is, rape and incest victims would need to provide a notarized affidavit within the first 8 weeks — 12 weeks for those aged 15 and under — in order to be eligible for abortion services.
"I couldn't stay at home and do nothing. I wanted to be here and make my voice be heard, and tell the legislators today that if they vote yes for banning abortions in Indiana, we are going to vote them out of office. Mark my words," Peggy Trelford, a West Lafayette resident who drove more than an hour to arrive at the Statehouse before the 11 a.m. session said.
Senators voted to pass the bill, which will now go to the House for debate. When the vote came in, the sound in the hall was deafening.
Protesters screamed profanities, chanted "Shame on you," and cried.
"I feel very frustrated. I've voted ever since I was 18. And it seems like things keep slipping backward, and we keep making no progress towards helping people in their actual lives," Sarah Hentzell, a Fishers resident, said.
WRTV didn't see any anti-abortion protesters at the Statehouse, but Indiana Right to Life issued a statement expressing concern over the bill.
You can read their statement below.
"Serious issues remain with SB1, including loopholes that will allow most abortions to continue in Indiana, and even a rollback on some protections that currently exist for the unborn. We are hopeful these concerns will be fixed in the House and that SB1 will become a bill we can support. As it stands today, we remain opposed to SB1."
As the battle heads into the House, many saw this as the beginning of the fight.
"They need to see how there are so many people out here on a beautiful Saturday making our voices heard, and we're going to continue to do that," Rima Shahid, CEO of Women4Change, an advocacy group based in Indianapolis, said.