Protesters of a new abortion bill flooded the lawn of the Indiana Statehouse April 9 in opposition of the regulations.
In response to the newly passed abortion bill HB 1337, women and men gathered to voice their opinions in front of the Statehouse. The event was a rally for women’s rights and about 6,000 people attended, according to co-organizer Satchuel Cole.
See photos from the protest here.
“A lot of people are very angry about the laws being made in this state, and the laws that are continually made in this state are oppressive,” Cole said. “I’m just ecstatic that we had this many people come out today.”
HB 1337 puts new stipulations in place for women who want to have an abortion. These include being informed by a doctor of the risks of abortions; signing forms stating the abortion is not due to the gender, race or potential disabilities of the fetus; and making the woman wait for at least 18 hours after meeting with a doctor to have the abortion performed.
After a woman has an abortion or miscarries, under HB 1337 she would have to provide burial or cremation for the fetus.
Those in attendance felt the bill infringed upon a woman’s right to choose for her own body. Berkley Conner, a first-year graduate student in the communication studies program at Ball State, attended the rally and said there was an even higher meaning to it.
“Not only is it a rally against that bill, but it’s sort of a rally for the greater good,” Conner said. “I really hope this rally shows Indiana legislators how we feel about our right and where we are right now in the state of women, and how small we are made to feel when legislation like this passes.”
Lauren Seitz, a senior at Ball State majoring in English and French, also attended the rally. She said the bill will create financial problems for the hospitals as well as the women.
“I understand that they’re trying to humanize [the fetus] so that you wouldn’t want to get an abortion, but the problem is that most likely if the woman doesn’t want to cremate or bury the fetal remains they’ll pass it on to the hospital,” Seitz said. “And the hospital will probably pass those costs on to the woman who didn’t want to do either of those things in the first place.”
About 15 members of Intercessors for Life, an anti-abortion rights group based out of Indianapolis, also attended the rally.
Brooke Guerrero, a member of Intercessors for Life at the rally, wanted to represent what she called pre-born babies.
“I don’t think you should be able to kill a baby for any reason,” Guerrero said. “The baby’s right to live supersedes the woman’s right to not be pregnant.”
Although Guerrero represented anti-abortion views at the rally, she did not support HB 1337.
“I actually think that it’s a bad law too, but for different reasons than they do,” Guerrero said. “All you have to do if you want an abortion is just sign a paper to say you’re not discriminating and then you can still have the abortion. And so in my opinion, any law that ends with ‘and then you can kill the baby’ is a bad law.”
Supporters of the rally and members of Intercessors for Life verbally clashed, but there was no violence of any kind. When debate between the two groups became heated, police stepped in and separated those in a dispute.
Lucas Reidenbach, a junior journalism and psychology major at Ball State, witnessed one of these verbal spats while attending the rally to support women’s rights.
“You don’t want to make the movement look bad because you have an emotional response to something that’s just ridiculous in the first place,” Reidenbach said.
Cole said she felt comfortable having an opposing viewpoint attend.
“They absolutely have the right to say what they want to say, and they have the right to protest just like everyone else does. And it doesn’t do any good when us pro-choice people scream and yell at them and try to silence them,” Cole said. “I don’t believe in oppressing anyone, even if they have opposing views.”
The passing of HB 1337 has also sparked the Facebook page "Periods for Pence," which encourages Indiana women to call Gov. Mike Pence and inform him of their periods.
According to the page, because a woman can expel a fertilized egg during menstruation, technically a period could be a miscarriage. The page has made headlines in NPR, Fox News, the New York Times, Vox, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed.
”I would certainly hate for any of my fellow Hoosier women to be at risk of penalty if they do not 'properly dispose' of this or report it. Just to cover our bases, perhaps we should make sure to contact Governor Pence's office to report our periods. We wouldn't want him thinking that THOUSANDS OF HOOSIER WOMEN A DAY are trying to hide anything, would we?” a post on the page read.
Conner said she is a supporter of the page.
“It’s ... biting and sarcastic and it just makes you think, ‘God, women are so cool and so smart, and you really messed with the wrong people,'” Conner said.
During the rally, prominent advocates of women’s rights spoke in front of the Statehouse. Behind the speakers were 97 women and men on the steps leading to the doors, each holding white signs with the name of a legislator who supported HB 1337. Two of these 97 people were Conner and Seitz.
At one point, the names were read off individually, prompting the crowd to chant, “They all must go.”
“I’m, like, a staunch feminist. So I really care about reproductive rights,” Conner said.
“Get out of my uterus,” Seitz said.