Walker talks about his vote for Senate Bill 1, which is a near total abortion plan with exemptions for rape and incest

Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, said he voted in favor of a near-total abortion ban over the weekend because he believes public policy should minimize women’s ability to choose to get abortions but defended an exemption in cases of rape and incest as a “pro-life position.”

The Indiana Senate on Saturday narrowly passed a near-total abortion ban during a rare weekend session, sending the bill to the House after a contentious week of arguments over whether to allow exceptions for rape and incest, The Associated Press reported.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 26-20 after about three hours of debate, passing the bill with the minimum 26 votes needed to send it on to the House, which Republicans also control.

The bill would prohibit abortions from the time a fertilized egg implants in a uterus. Exceptions would be allowed in cases of rape and incest, but a patient seeking an abortion for either reason would have to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to the attack.

“I think there is a role for public policy to try to minimize the choice of abortion for women,” Walker said Monday. “I supported the exception for rape and incest because I believe that’s a pro life position. (I’ve) got colleagues that disagree, but we have bordering states that are publicly inviting women to seek abortion procedures in their jurisdiction.”

Walker said that if Indiana expands services to pregnant sexual assault survivors including post-trauma and post-partum support “we stand a better chance of providing the support that leads to a decision to bring the child to term.”

“I think if we could do more, we would ultimately effectively save more lives of mothers and children without a total ban,” Walker said.

The vote came amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans face some party divisions and Democrats see a possible election-year boost, according to wire reports.

Indiana is one of the first Republican-controlled states to debate tighter abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned the precedent establishing a national right to an abortion.

Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, did not respond to repeated requests for comment as the bill moves to the Indiana House for consideration.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.