INDIANAPOLIS—“Whose body? Our body. Whose choice? Our choice.”
Chanting could be heard down East Washington Street as hundreds of people gathered in the pouring rain at Lugar Plaza Saturday morning, protesting for women’s reproductive rights.
Nine other Rallies for Reproductive Rights occurred across Indiana and more than 600 nationwide. Hosts of the Indianapolis event included the American Civil Liberties Union, Women’s March Indiana, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Indiana, NOW Indiana, Indianapolis Indivisible, Indiana Nasty Women, Black Women in Charge and All-Options.
Their inspiration was the recent Texas abortion bill that bans abortion at six weeks, before most women are aware they are pregnant. Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, plans to draft a similar bill for Indiana in the 2022 legislative session.
Sarah Austin said she chose to come to the rally because she wants to see change at the Indiana Statehouse.
“We’re here for women’s reproductive rights,” Austin said. “We want the people at the Statehouse to know we’re pro-choice.”
Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, left Muncie early with a caravan of protesters bound for the rally.
In July, Mississippi asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, a case passed 50 years ago that allows safe and legal abortions. Since then, according to Errington, Indiana has passed 65 abortion restriction laws, which is more than every state except Louisianna.
“Not everyone was alive before Roe v. Wade, but I was, and we do not want to go back,” Errington said in an interview. “I refuse to go back.”
In the 2021 legislative session, Errington authored a bill on sex education that died in committee.
“If you know about safe sex and contraceptives, then you don’t have to worry about abortion,” said Errington in an interview.
Katie Blair, director of advocacy and public policy for the ACLU, said Indiana already has the most extreme abortion laws in the country and only plans to get stricter.
“Reproductive health care, including abortion, should be safe and available to those who need it,” Blair said at the rally. “We will fight in the Statehouse, we will fight in the courts, we will march in the streets, we will use all of our power to fight for reproductive rights wherever and whenever they are in jeopardy.”
City-County Councilor Ali Brown shared her own pregnancy story with protesters Saturday, describing how she saw two little lines on a stick that confirmed she was pregnant despite having an IUD.
Brown reached out to several doctors trying to get answers as to how it was possible and if it would be a safe pregnancy, but doctors told her they couldn’t see her for three weeks. Because of Planned Parenthood, she was able to get her IUD removed without hurting the baby that was also in her womb.
“Pregnancy is rough. We just don’t like to talk about it. Everyone says it’s a miracle and it’s beautiful and wonderful, but no one talks about the immense pain, the sickness and how rough it can be to grow something inside of you,” Brown said. “There is a shame and a stigma about talking about how difficult it is to carry a child and to give birth, and we need to break that.”
When Brown went to give birth, her placenta ruptured, and Brown had to have an unmedicated cesarean birth. The last thing she heard was, “He’s blue and not breathing.” Four hours later, she woke up to find out she had also stopped breathing and her heart stopped beating. She and her baby boy were able to make it out alive, she said, but that isn’t always the case.
The U.S. has one of the highest mother mortality rates for a developed country, with Indiana being the third highest in the country.
Dana Black with Indiana’s Own fired up protesters with an impactful speech.
“I’m sick and tired of, after almost 50 years, we are back here in the rain marching to protect women’s reproductive rights,” Black said. “We have not done everything we need to do to make sure that the legislation that’s coming out of our Statehouse represents all of us.”
Indianapolis resident Heleigh Inscore held a sign that said “pro-women, pro-child, pro-choice, pro-secco.”
“We want to protect the right for safe and legal abortions,” Inscore said.
All the speakers urged protesters to share their stories and go to the polls.
“Each woman has different circumstances when it comes to reproductive health care,” said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a rally organizer. “That’s why it should not be legislated by a bunch of old men in the Statehouse who know nothing about it.”