January 8, 2016 — Indiana state Sen. Jim Banks (R) has proposed a bill (SB 144) that would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy, the Indianapolis Star reports.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, North Dakota is the only state to have enacted a fetal heartbeat ban (HB 1456). The law was overturned by a federal court for violating Roe v. Wade, and the state has asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling.
Under the measure, physicians who do not check for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion, or who perform an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat, could be charged with a Level 5 felony. The bill includes exceptions for endangerment of the woman's life or health. According to the Star, the bill is one of three antiabortion-rights measures proposed for the new legislative session. One of the other bills (SB 77), also proposed by Banks, would curb research that relies on fetal tissue. The third bill (SB 5), proposed by state Sen. Jim Tomes (R), would increase the penalty for selling or purchasing fetal tissue in Indiana.
Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the abortion ban bill is unconstitutional and violates precedent set in Roe v. Wade. Separately, state Sen. Jean Breaux (D) said she believes women in the state would prefer lawmakers to focus on issues other than abortion. "I believe the majority of them would tell you they'd rather see us focus our attention on making sure that women are able to earn equal pay to men and making sure you have access to affordable child care and safe child care and making sure that young teenagers are not becoming pregnant before their time," she said (Cook/Schneider, Indianapolis Star, 1/4).