Indiana lawmakers bring near-total abortion ban to final vote

FILE PHOTO: Protests during a special session debating on banning abortion, in Indianapolis
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By Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) - Indiana lawmakers prepared on Friday to take a final vote on a bill that would ban all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergency, legislation that would dramatically cut abortion access in the Midwestern state if approved.

The measure, which passed the Indiana House of Representatives on Friday and awaited approval by the Senate, would make Indiana the first state to pass legislation to sharply restrict abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

If approved by the Republican-led Senate, it would move to the desk of Republican Governor Eric Holcomb for signing.

Indiana's state legislature moved the bill during a special session this summer, which lawmakers called after the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision empowered states to pass and carry out laws banning abortion.

West Virginia is likely days away from passing a near-total abortion ban, and some 10 other Republican-led states have already implemented near-total bans that were on the books before the decision to overturn Roe.

Indiana currently permits abortion up to 22 weeks after the last menstrual period, with several additional restrictions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates-East were organizing a protest at the statehouse on Friday evening to oppose the Senate's likely approval of the measure.

Earlier in the day, dozens of abortion rights advocates protested at the Capitol, chanting "Shame on you!" as members of the House passed the bill, according to video posted to Twitter.

"SB 1 is a cruel and dangerous attack on liberty and freedom. We won’t stop fighting until everyone can access the abortion care they need without politicians interfering," the ACLU of Indiana wrote on Twitter.

The legislation seeks to terminate the licenses of abortion clinics and ban abortion in nearly all cases. It would make exceptions for abortion only "to prevent any serious health risk of the pregnant woman or to save the pregnant woman's life," in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, or in cases of rape or incest.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Diane Craft)