What’s next for advocates now that Indiana’s new abortion ban is in effect

With Indiana’s abortion ban now in effect, local organizers say the focus of their efforts has changed.

As some abortion rights advocates look to the fall general election to elect pro-government candidates, one of the state’s most prominent anti-abortion groups says it will press on lawmakers to pass a stricter abortion ban in the next legislative session.

Protesters gathered around Indianapolis throughout Thursday and into the evening, stopping at the Governor’s Mansion, Monument Circle and Tarkington Park.

Noah Thomas, a student at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and one of the organizers of the protest, said the day’s events are the first of many big events that abortion rights advocates have planned.

“It’s not OK and the majority of Hoosiers agree it’s not OK,” Thomas said. “And we will continue to fight.”

Indiana was the first state to ban abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The new law bans most abortions with limited exceptions.

Now that the law has gone into effect, some abortion rights groups are preparing to work with health care providers to help women access out-of-state abortion care, said Julie Storbeck, president of the Indiana National Organization for Women, one of the organizers. rallies that took place on Thursday.

“We will work with health facilities to help ensure that anyone who needs reproductive health care can access it legally,” Storbeck said. “And privately, we will work to secure the vote for the pro-choice candidates.”

While some rallied to protest the new law, the anti-abortion organization Indiana Right to Life celebrated the law as a “new opportunity”. CEO Mike Fichter said in a statement that the law is “new hope that a heart movement will unfold in Indiana that sets the pace to protect lives and provide the care and support expectant mothers deserve.” .

In addition to the abortion ban, another bill passed in Indiana’s special legislative session allocates more than $70 million to support pregnant Hoosiers, children and families. Fichter said Indiana Right to Life supports this increase in financial support, which includes an adoption tax credit and program funding.

“We are fans of the extensive network of more than 100 Pregnancy Resource Centers across Indiana offering free counseling, services and support to pregnant women and their babies,” Fichter said in an email to WFYI. “We strongly believe that as a state we can’t just talk about valuing life, we need to provide a comprehensive support network for moms and babies.”

Scenes of protests across the city

In front of the governor’s mansion on Thursday, a few dozen people had gathered in the middle of the afternoon to protest. This number rose to more than a hundred by early evening. Protesters held signs and chanted as cars passed down North Meridian Street, honking their horns in support.

Among them was Indianapolis resident Nancy Kohn, who said she wanted to send a message to heads of state and the governor.

“It’s fine for you, Governor Holcomb, to believe that life begins at conception, but not everyone does,” Kohn said. “I am Jewish, and in my faith we believe that life begins at birth.”

One of the event’s organizers, Monique Rust, said the political struggle is not over for activists like her, who will work to increase turnout in the upcoming elections and inspire more people to vote. vote for candidates who support abortion rights.

Jysica Payne with Shout Your Abortion, a group aimed at normalizing abortion, distributed information about self-managed abortion.

“Even though our government may have taken away the right to a medical procedure, there may still be ways to access safe and legal abortion care outside of that spectrum,” Payne said.

Speakers stood on the lawn of the governor’s mansion and spoke against the law.

State Sen. Fady Qaddoura, a Democrat representing Indiana’s 30th Senate district, said Republicans in the state pushed their own religious views on Hoosiers. He urged the crowd to “reject” Republicans in this year’s election.

“Your choice is on the November ballot, your rights are on the ballot,” Qaddoura said.

A small number of abortion rights opponents also turned out to show their support for the new abortion law.

Alex Yarbor, an IUPUI senior, said he came to speak with abortion rights supporters and represent the campus student organization, the Life Defenders.

“We are not here to judge, we are not here to persecute, we are here to be humble servants in the cause of life,” Yarbor said. “We sincerely believe [abortion rights supporters] have the best intentions, we just think they have the wrong policy.

Yarbor said he and other members of his student group tried to talk to people but “ran into some opposition”.

“We kind of decided that we weren’t wanted here. We’ll just try to hang back and hold up our signs and pray for them because that’s all we’re called to do,” he said.

What happens after

Groups like the Indiana National Organization for Women plan to capitalize on the energy of community members galvanized by the abortion ban.

“The women are furious. They are furious. They are terrified,” NOW Indiana President Storbeck said.

“So after September 15, we will work to get the pro-choice candidates out to vote. We want to do everything in our power, from phone banking to postcard campaigns, to voter registration, to getting people to the polls.

Continued advocacy work will include more protests and marches, which Strobeck says is an important part of their efforts.

“As we go out and protest and people see us standing holding signs saying ‘Abortion is health care,’ ‘Abortion saves lives,’ it’s starting conversations on social media, at the dinner table, with kids at school talking about reproduction,” she says.

Indiana Right to Life CEO Mike Fichter said his organization supports the new law and will continue to push for an even tougher ban.

“We believe that every unborn child is precious, regardless of the means of conception,” he said. “We are also concerned that the lack of police reporting requirements in cases of incest-related rape and abortions could potentially allow the perpetrators of these violent acts to get off the hook legally and n ‘encourages some doctors to circumvent the law.

While legal efforts by abortion clinics and providers to prevent the law from taking effect immediately have failed, Fichter said in an email that supporters of Right to Life are “concerned about potential challenges to the law and whether these could cause lengthy delays.

The next step in the fight to stop or suspend Indiana’s new abortion law comes Monday, when the first hearing is scheduled for a trial seeking to block the ban.

Two lawsuits challenge the ban: A lawsuit filed in Marion County court last week said that the ban violates the Indiana Restoration of Religious Freedom Act or RFRA. The lawsuit said The Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Episcopal, and Pagan religions all recognize a right to abortion that would be prohibited by Indiana law. And in some cases, the lawsuit argued that some religious traditions even say abortions should be performed in situations that Indiana will soon ban.

Another lawsuit filed in August by the ACLU on behalf of a number of abortion clinics argues that the abortion ban violates the Indiana constitution by including vague language regarding health risk. or the life of a pregnant person and limiting legal abortions to hospitals and surgical centers owned only by hospitals.

WFYI’s Darian Benson, Farah Yousry and Katrina Pross contributed to this story.

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