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Law experts weigh in on Indiana's near-total abortion ban

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Posted at 10:30 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 10:41:48-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Action with Indiana’s abortion legislation was swift. In just about two weeks, Senate Bill 1 passed out of the legislature and was signed by Governor Eric Holcomb.

Come Sept. 15, the near-total abortion ban goes into effect.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of gaps when doctors look at what women are experiencing, how to treat it,” Dr. Jody Madeira, a law professor with Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said.

Under the new law, there are four abortion exceptions — rape, incest, life and physical health of the mother, and lethal fetal anomalies.

Rape or incest exemptions will need to be performed 10 weeks before post-fertilization. In the case of the life of a mother or lethal fetal anomalies, women will have up to 20 weeks post-fertilization for an abortion.

The procedure can only take place in a hospital or hospital-owned outpatient setting.

“One of the things that my folks always taught me was before you make an important decision, you should always sleep on it. We should’ve slept on this for a while longer,” law professor at IU McKinney School of Law, Jennifer Drobac said.

Both law experts agree there are more questions right now than answers.

“SB1 basically uses the standard of reasonable medical judgment but the question is how far does a health risk have to progress before it dangers the health or life of the mother,” Madeira said.

Drobac adds mental health is not considered under the life of a mother exemption.

“It has to be the endangerment of life or a significant physical health function, so how you define that is anyone’s guess,” Drobac said.

Under the new law, performing illegal abortions or not filling out required reports are grounds for doctors to lose a medical license, and possibly face criminal penalties.

Both experts believe the law, as written, could be challenged in the eyes of the court.

“I think other states need to be watching what happens here in Indiana. I don’t think things will evolve comfortably here,” Drobac said.