August 14, 2022

Community opposition to abortion ban: arts leaders draw a crowd

Co-producer Cara Berg Raunick addresses the 5 p.m. fundraiser performance of "Spring Awakening" at The Cabaret Saturday, August 13, 2022. - Emilie Syberg/WFYI News

Co-producer Cara Berg Raunick addresses the 5 p.m. fundraiser performance of "Spring Awakening" at The Cabaret Saturday, August 13, 2022.

Emilie Syberg/WFYI News

Some Indianapolis arts organizations joined forces Saturday to raise money to cover abortion-care costs, one week after lawmakers passed a near-total abortion ban in Indiana.

Co-producer Cara Berg Raunick addressed a packed house at The Cabaret before the first of two performances of “Spring Awakening” – a Tony Award-winning musical, first produced in 2007, with a largely young cast that explores themes around sexuality, suicide, and abortion.

“This is a long fight,” Berg Raunick said. “And we need to find moments of solidarity, moments of joy, and moments of community – and that is what the arts and the theater is for.”

Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Hoosier Abortion Fund, run by Bloomington-based All-Options. The organization provides pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption support across the state – and aims to support people no matter what they decide to do.

Berg Raunick, a women’s health nurse practitioner, and her husband, Michael Berg Raunick, said the idea for the event came in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.

“And it happened because we have several friends involved politically, and in the legal system, and all of them were talking about really concrete things that they were thinking about how they could help in this situation,” said Michael Berg Raunick. “And I was listening to that, and I was thinking: I can’t really do those things, but what can I do? And the thing I really know how to do is put on a musical.”

The Cabaret and the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre provided performance and rehearsal space. Berg Raunick and Berg Raunick asked friends and colleagues to build a creative team and slate of performers.

“Every single person that we asked was so excited to just do something.” Michael Berg Raunick said. “I feel like every time I sent someone an email, or sent them a text, or talked to them in person, they said ‘Yes, I definitely want to do it; no, I don’t need to be paid. Also, my wife wants to help, and all my friends.’”

All-Options executive director Parker Dockray said they saw a spike in people seeking service after the Supreme Court ruling, and now an average of 75 a week receive assistance from the Hoosier Abortion Fund.

“We’ve been spending a lot of money right now,” Dockray said. “And we’ve been getting a lot of donations. It’s been really heartwarming to see how people have stepped up and wanted to do something for their fellow Hoosiers in accessing abortion care.”

She said one in three clients who seek seek abortion assistance currently journey outside the state, and most will after Indiana’s law goes into effect, Sept. 15.

“We will still be helping people after the new abortion ban goes into effect –  whether that’s helping them understand the law and whether they qualify for any of the very narrow exemptions, and how they would actually get abortion care in Indiana, but mostly helping them understand where they can still get abortion care and traveling – most likely to Illinois,” Dockray said.

She said the organization will also increase pregnancy supports for people ultimately unable to access abortion care. 

As of Saturday evening, the “Spring Awakening” fundraising event had raised close to $60,000.

“I’m here tonight because I needed to do something after our legislature passed SB1,” said attendee Andrea Pactor. “This was the first thing that came across our radar screen. I believe, like organizer Cara Berg Raunick, that the arts can be healing.”

Participating organizations included the ACLU of Indiana, Women4Change, Path4You, the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and Glick Philanthropies.

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