INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortions in the U.S., setting the stage for conservative Indiana lawmakers to enact new restrictions when they return for a special session on July 6.
Indiana is among about half of the states expected to place limits on abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision that ended federal protections guaranteeing abortion access.
Here's what the ruling means for Hoosiers.
Abortion remains legal, but maybe not for long
Abortions in the first and second trimester of a pregnancy are still legal in Indiana, but Gov. Eric Holcomb on Friday said he hopes that changes soon.
In a statement, Holcomb, a Republican, said he expects the state's GOP-dominated General Assembly to adopt new abortion laws during a special session that begins on July 6.
"I have been clear in stating I am pro-life," Holcomb said. "We have an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life, and that’s exactly what we will do."
Indiana's current abortion law
Here's Indiana's current law on abortions:
- Abortions in the first trimester can legally be conducted at clinics. Abortions in the second trimester can be performed at hospitals with a physician present.
- Patients must be counseled on fetal development, possible complications and abortion alternatives then must wait 18 hours before the procedure is performed.
- An ultrasound must be performed and the patient must be offered a chance to view the ultrasound image 18 hours prior to an abortion.
- Parents must consent to abortions for girls under age 18. Pregnant minors can ask a judge to waive the parental consent requirement in special circumstances.
- Telemedicine is prohibited for obtaining medication that induces an abortion.
- Abortion pills are prohibited after 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Possible abortion restrictions coming
Restrictions are on the horizon for Indiana, but one big unanswered question is whether lawmakers allow abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's health is in danger.
The Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights throughout the world, lists Indiana as one of 26 states likely to ban abortions now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
The state legislature is controlled by a Republican super majority whose leaders have long been waiting for a day when Indiana would again have the power to regulate abortion.
Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) celebrated the ruling Friday.
"We're excited to build on Indiana's already strong pro-life track record," Huston said. "I strongly believe we'll couple any action with expanding resources and services to support pregnant mothers, and care for their babies before and after birth."
Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, told WRTV the ACLU wasn't surprised but was "profoundly disappointed" but the Supreme Court's decision.
"This is a unique event in American history where the Supreme Court has taken a well established constitutional right and removed it," Falk said. "Until the legislature changes the law, if it chooses to do so, abortion is still legal and available in Indiana just as it was yesterday.”
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) vowed to find a new abortion policy that is "right for Indiana."
"Indiana has a strong record as a pro-life state," Bray said. "With the final decision in hand, we can begin to formulate a policy that is right for Indiana that protects unborn children and cares for the health and lives of mothers and their babies."
According to a 2019 Ball State poll, only 17% of Hoosiers support criminalizing abortions even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Nationally, Gallup finds that just 13% of Americans believe abortions should be illegal while 30% believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances and 50% believe it should be legal in some circumstances.
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.