INDIANAPOLIS — Abortion opponents, especially in conservative states, had hoped to swiftly pass a new wave of restrictions after Roe v. Wade was overturned. But so far, most Republican lawmakers have moved cautiously or done nothing at all, even in statehouses where they hold overwhelming majorities.
A debate playing out in Indiana this week is showing why.
Though Republican legislators support the broad idea of restricting abortion, they have clashing views on how far to go. Should there be an outright ban? If so, should there be exceptions for rape and incest? And what if a woman’s health is threatened by a pregnancy but doctors do not believe she will die?
“Those are all questions that are really difficult,” said State Senator Rodric Bray, an Indiana Republican whose caucus, which has long worked to limit abortions, has divided over a bill that would ban abortion with some exceptions. Before Roe was overturned this year, Mr. Bray said, lawmakers had not “spent enough time on those issues, because you knew it was an issue you didn’t have to really get into the granular level in. But we’re now there, and we’re recognizing that this is pretty hard work.”
trigger bans on abortion years ago, when it remained a federal right, Republicans weighing the issue today are not governing in hypotheticals. They are contending with thorny questions about exceptions, nuanced disagreements within their own party and mixed public opinion during an election season in which abortion has become a defining issue. Recent high-profile cases, like that of a 10-year-old sexual assault victim from Ohio who traveled to Indiana to get an abortion because of new restrictions in her home state, have made clear the stakes of the debate.
Leaders in many Republican-led states seem to be biding their time. An exception has been West Virginia, where lawmakers advanced a near-total ban this week after a court blocked enforcement of an 1849 abortion ban in that state.
But in Nebraska, where an effort to pass a trigger ban narrowly failed early this year, Gov. Pete Ricketts has discussed the possibility of a special session but has yet to call one. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has largely avoided questions about whether he would take immediate steps to pass new restrictions. In South Dakota, where a ban went into effect after Roe was struck down, Gov. Kristi Noem backed away from an initial pledge to call lawmakers to the Capitol to consider more abortion bills. And in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has said she was focused on getting the courts to allow for enforcement of existing restrictions that had been blocked.
told local reporters last month.