The Biden administration criticized Indiana’s new abortion ban Saturday after the state became the first in the U.S. to approve new abortion restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
In a statement from the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the Indiana legislature’s move a “devastating step,” and a “radical step by Republican legislators to take away women’s reproductive rights and freedom, and put personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians rather than women and their doctors.”
The statement also asserts that Biden is committed to action that protects reproductive rights and accessible care that’s afforded by federal law.
The new law, which was passed by the Indiana House and Senate on Friday, bans most abortions in the state, but allows for exceptions in cases of rape and incest before 10 weeks post-fertilization, as well as when a mother’s life is at-risk, and in instances of life-threatening fetal anomalies. It is set to go into effect on Sept. 15. All 11 Indiana Democratic Senators voted against the bill.
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Under the new legislation, abortions can only be performed in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals, thus shutting down all abortion clinics. According to the bill, doctors who perform illegal abortions or don’t fulfill all required paperwork will lose their medical licenses.
The current law in Indiana allows for abortions up to 22 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period or 20 weeks after fertilization.
Hours after the Indiana ban was announced, Biden tweeted, “This week, I signed an executive order to make sure health care providers comply with federal law, so women don’t face delays or denials of medically necessary care. It builds on the first one I signed last month that will also help safeguard access to health care.”’
On July 8, Biden signed an executive order that aimed to protect access to abortion medication and emergency contraception. In another executive order Biden signed on Wednesday, he aimed to make travel for abortion care more accessible, especially for low-income women.
The Indiana ban comes just weeks after a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio made national headlines for traveling to Indiana to get an abortion, due to Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” law. Biden also spoke out then on the need to continue protecting abortion access.
“She was forced to have to travel out of the state to Indiana to seek to terminate the pregnancy and maybe save her life,” Biden said in a speech at the White House. “Ten years old — 10 years old! — raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized, was forced to travel to another state.”
Just days before the Indiana ban was decried, Kansas voters, who are a Republican majority, won a ballot referendum to protect abortion rights in their state. Going forward, Kansas is projected to be an accessible destination for abortions from women in neighboring midwestern states. Indiana will join Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Arkansas as another state in the region with highly restrictive abortion access.
The Democratic Party has been prioritizing abortion as a major issue this year that will likely play into the midterm elections. Abortion ranks near the top of the chart of issues that voters are concerned about. With more states expected to ban abortion in the coming weeks and months, Biden will continue to be a key figure in the movement to protect abortion rights.