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Indiana senator leaves Republican caucus amidst difficult abortion debate

Senate Republican leadership confirms that Sen. Michael Young has "opted to remove himself from the caucus."

INDIANAPOLIS — On the third day of the special session of the Indiana General Assembly, Senate Republicans moved an abortion bill forward – even while there is disagreement over the language. One longtime conservative Republican senator has left the caucus.

Senate Republican leadership confirms that Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, has "opted to remove himself from the caucus."

Young agreed to an interview Wednesday in the senate chambers, but he would not address the issue of leaving the caucus or how much his decision had to do with the abortion debate.

Young has served in the state legislature for 36 years. He gives up a committee chairmanship by leaving the caucus. He describes himself as a conservative pro-life Republican. He said he can't support the abortion bill in its current form, but he still believes Republicans will pass strong anti-abortion legislation.

"It's kind of like cooking a Thanksgiving meal, trying to get it done right, on time, so everybody can eat together,” Young said. “We still have time to work it out. Everyone's working. They're doing their part. Some people are bringing the dessert, some doing the turkey, some doing the vegetables. We're all doing it. We're all working together and trying to get it done on time in a way that the majority of us can vote for. And so, if you are a pro-life member, you've got time. Don't get discouraged. It's not over yet, and wait and see what we bring out on Friday."

Credit: WTHR

RELATED: Abortion ban bill moves to full Senate for possible amendments

Wednesday, the Senate adopted the majority committee report on the abortion bill, but refused to hear testimony on a minority committee report.

"You don't care about the minority,” Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, chided Republican leadership on the Senate floor. “You care about power. And that's exactly what you did today by denying my opportunity to speak in this body is...you showed your power and control. Congratulations."

Thursday, the abortion bill goes before the full Senate for amendments and debate at 1:30 p.m. Several amendments are expected to be introduced by both Republican and Democrat senators. Only a few of the the roughly 60 people who testified in committee, spoke in favor of the bill in its current form, which would ban abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother.

Republicans have the numbers to pass anything they want. But there is apparent disagreement in the caucus over what being a pro-life legislator means and how to craft legislation restricting abortion.

"I'm hoping for a bill that we can get as close as we can to protecting every baby's life,” said Young. “And I understand there could be some minor exceptions somewhere along the line that we would have to consider to get a consensus and a majority vote in both houses. And if we can get to that and still stay within our principles and my principles, we can support it."

RELATED: Doctors, advocates concerned for rape victims as lawmakers further restrict abortion ban bill

Democrats believe Republicans are divided on abortion restrictions despite their super majority.

"They have dissension within their caucus,” said Taylor. “You've seen letters written from members who are not attending their caucuses. You have members inside their own caucus who are not happy with the process. This was just another bump in the road. And now the bumps are ending up over here."

By over here, Taylor means in the Senate chambers, where the bumpy Indiana abortion debate resumes at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

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