Yesterday morning, the Indiana House considered an anti-abortion bill that “would put some of the tightest abortion restrictions in the nation into Indiana law.” Introduced by state Rep. Eric Turner (R), HB 1210 would make most abortions illegal after 20 weeks. Current law restricts abortions after the fetus is viable, generally around 24 weeks.
In an attempt to soften the blow this bill would land on Hoosier women, state Rep. Gail Riecken (D) introduced an amendment to exempt “women who became pregnant due to rape or incest, or women for whom pregnancy threatens their life or could cause serious and irreversible physical harm” from being forced to carry to term. Fearing this bill would “push women to the back alleys” for illegal abortions, Riecken pleaded with lawmakers to allow women to make the choice in these cases.
Turner then stepped to the podium and insisted that Riecken’s amendment would create a “giant loophole” for women. That loophole? Women “could simply say they’ve been raped”:
TURNER: With all do respect to Rep. Riecken, I understand what she’s trying to do. But as you know that when the federal health care bill was going through Congress there was a lot of discussion whether this would allow for abortion coverage and of course we were all told it would not. And the bill, my house bill 1210, would prevent that for any insurance company to provide abortion coverage under federal health care bill. This [amendment] would open that window and I would ask you to oppose this amendment.
I just want you to think about this, in my view, giant loophole that could be created where someone who could — now i want to be careful, I don’t want to disparage in any way someone who has gone through the experience of a rape or incest — but someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest.
Outraged by Turner’s allegation, state Rep. Linda Lawson (D) — who spent six years as a sex crimes investigator for the Indiana police — delivered an emotional rebuke. Describing her experience with both elderly and young children who had been raped, she forcefully informed Turner that “they don’t make it up.” “Women don’t make this up! My Goodness!” she exclaimed. “This is the state of Indiana!”
The House voted down Riecken’s amendment 42 to 54. The bill “now is eligible for a final vote in the House later this week. It then would move to the Senate, which earlier passed similar legislation aimed at abortion.”