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Anticipating state abortion ban, protesters continue to descend on Statehouse

Tracey Nix found out she had cervical cancer when she was pregnant.

“And it was aggressive,” she said. “It was growing very quickly. And my doctor, for whatever reason, said that they would do nothing about it during the first trimester. So that would have put me in the second trimester, which in many states would have been too late to have an abortion. So then I would have had to choose. I would have had a choice.”

Nix and many other pro-abortion protesters held a rally on the steps of the Indiana Statehouse all Wednesday afternoon—one of many pro-abortion protests and rallies scheduled in the time leading up to the special session July 25, when Indiana’s legislators are expected to restrict abortion access in the state following the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24.

Men, women and nonbinary Hoosiers from varying backgrounds were all seen at the rally. Many had to take off work so they could protest in temperatures above 90 degrees. Chants could be heard around all corners of the Statehouse, led by speakers taking turns using megaphones. Some drivers showed support by giving a “honk” and were met with cheers.

Rene Baugh, a friend of Nix’s, was one of the women who had to use a vacation day so she could attend the rally.

“The day that the decision (the overturning of Roe v. Wade) came down, I was so angry and sad, I couldn’t even stop crying. And it just felt so obvious that they (Republican lawmakers) rearranged the special session hoping people would cool off, but they won’t,” said Baugh. “It’s so important, it just feels like, what’s next? So, this is a basic right that you have and I would just never think in my lifetime that we would ever lose something like this. I just felt the need to show presence.”

Baugh wanted to show presence but admitted she does not think the rallies will change the current lawmakers’ minds.

“I don’t think they care about this. I think they know what they’re gonna do, and it’s just a matter of doing it,” said Baugh. “And I hope that this encourages people to vote. The current administration, they don’t care. They’re probably laughing at us. I hope this gets more people to vote.”

Baugh shared she also fears the wider implications of a ban on abortion.

“So many women were texting me that day, just curled up crying. They were just so shocked that Roe v. Wade was overturned. And I think that for many of these women, they’re no longer of childbearing age,” said Baugh. “They’re really more concerned about the future for their daughters, and also, a lot of us are concerned that it seems like more than ever, we’re moving to authoritarianism where all the power is once again collected by one group of people, in spite of the fact that they’re no longer the majority.”

Nix said her daughter and 7-month-old granddaughter attended protests the day Roe v. Wade was overturned and had given her a sign to bring to Wednesday’s. The sign said, “Keep your laws off my daughter.”

Nix said that she and her daughter both decided to be mothers and believe mothers should have the same choice in such an important decision.

Nix said, “I find it so interesting that we never talk about regulating sperm or a penis or anything on a man—heaven forbid a gun.”

Not everyone who walked or drove by showed support. A man walked up to the protesters, throwing his bag down while signaling a middle finger. Another man took his shirt off to throw it on the ground and began yelling at the protestors. He walked into the middle of the street, stopping traffic while making obscene gestures. There was also the occasional passerby who booed from their car.

Jason Boudi, a “proud veteran” of the U.S. Air Force, said he came out in the heat to support “my spouse, my friends, my children, myself. This is a right that everybody should have access to. And stealing it, as it seems like the state of Indiana is going to do, is disappointing. It’s very disappointing that that’s what’s happening.”

Boudi originally planned to bring his family to the protest on Wednesday, the day the special session was supposed to begin. It was moved to July 25 but they decided they still wanted to come. Boudi said he will be taking off work to protest again on July 25, the special session’s new start date.

“I think being out here when the legislators are coming in makes them aware that it’s important that there are people that are going to come out during the middle of the workweek and make sure that they know how upset and disappointed we are that they are taking rights away from us,” said Boudi.

Boudi said banning abortions will negatively impact lower-income people more severely than wealthier people. When it comes to people travelling for abortions, he said, “I think the rich people will. The people that have no choice, they don’t have the means, the financial means to do that, might resort to backstreet abortions, dangerous illegal situations.”

Boudi also worries about other rights being taken away, saying, “I believe Clarence Thomas specifically said that he’s coming after other rights—contraception, same sex marriage. And I’m not surprised that there is more than that has specifically been stated, that Clarence Thomas will lead the charge against judicial rulings that have guaranteed the right to privacy for so many people for so long.”

Nix agreed.

“I just cannot imagine the government feels like it has a place in this decision,” she said. “Shocking.”

Zachary Roberts is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. 

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