Indiana lawmakers meet to debate banning abortion in the state Indiana lawmakers will convene in the Statehouse for a special session on abortion and other issues. They're in the minority, but Democrats may have an impact because of division among Republicans.

Indiana may soon ban abortion if Republican lawmakers can agree on how far to go

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A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Indiana is likely to join around a dozen states that have moved to restrict abortions in the last few weeks.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Today, lawmakers will gather in the state capitol for a special legislative session. One of the issues they'll address is a bill that would ban most abortions. Vice President Kamala Harris is headed to Indianapolis today to discuss reproductive rights with some of these lawmakers.

MARTINEZ: For more, we're joined now by Brandon Smith, Statehouse bureau chief for Indiana Public Broadcasting. Brandon, Republicans have the majority in the Statehouse. So what do they want to do with abortion in Indiana?

BRANDON SMITH, BYLINE: Well, fundamentally, they want to ban it. But just how far they go is the unknown here. But let's start with what the head of the Indiana Senate, Rodric Bray, said as he unveiled the initial abortion bill last week.

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RODRIC BRAY: Our underlying goal is to protect human life, promote more adoption and less abortion by limiting abortion to the life of the mother, rape and incest.

SMITH: Now, complicating this is that Indiana is already in the spotlight on this issue after a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had been raped had to come here for an abortion. But there are deep divisions within the Republican caucuses. Some think the initial bill is too lax, while others think it's too harsh.

MARTINEZ: Now, Democrats, they're in the minority here. How much wiggle room do they have to change an abortion ban in a special session?

SMITH: Yeah, normally I'd say very little because they're not just in the minority, they're in the super minority in both chambers. But because of how much disagreement there is among Republicans, there's potentially an opening for Democrats to have an impact. For instance, they can force votes on amendments that could put Republicans in a tough spot. Now, Democrats also serve as a voice of warning here. So Senate Democratic leader Greg Taylor, for instance, is warning Republicans about serious public backlash.

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GREG TAYLOR: Just watch. When people get a hold of this piece of legislation and find out that we have an outright ban on abortion in Indiana, it's going to get worse.

MARTINEZ: What about voters in Indiana, Brandon? What have they been saying about abortion and abortion rights?

SMITH: Well, there have already been significant abortion-rights rallies downtown and at the Statehouse since the Supreme Court's ruling. There are more expected this week, including from now some anti-abortion groups. As I said, the spotlight has been on Indiana and abortion over the last couple of weeks, in part because of that 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. And that spotlight will get even brighter still today as Vice President Kamala Harris comes to town as the debate begins. But lawmakers only have through August 14 to finish their work - so only about three weeks because of the rules of how Indiana special sessions work. And just going through their normal legislative process, which is what they planned, will take about two weeks, meaning that if the two chambers can't agree, lawmakers could potentially run out of time.

MARTINEZ: All right. That's Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting. Brandon, thank you.

SMITH: Thank you.

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