July 26, 2022

Indiana anti-abortion advocates pray, rally for stricter abortion ban

Hundreds gathered at that Statehouse for the “Love Them Both” anti-abortion rally organized by Indiana Right to Life. The group urged lawmakers to restrict abortion and increase support for pregnant Hoosiers and children. - Emilie Syberg / WFYI

Hundreds gathered at that Statehouse for the “Love Them Both” anti-abortion rally organized by Indiana Right to Life. The group urged lawmakers to restrict abortion and increase support for pregnant Hoosiers and children.

Emilie Syberg / WFYI

Hundreds of anti-abortion advocates gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday to urge lawmakers to restict abortion and increase support for pregnant Hoosiers.

The “Love them Both” rally was held on the second day of the special legislative session, where lawmakers advanced a bill to ban abortion except in limited cases of rape and incest and when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

The influential anti-abortion group Indiana Right Life organized the rally. Indiana Right to Life CEO Mike Fichter said the proposed abortion bill does not meet the organization’s expectations. 

“After 50 years of working and praying and a full reversal of Roe, this legislation is weak and completely unacceptable to the pro-life community,” Fichter said.

Fichter wants tighter restrictions and stronger enforcement provisions. Fichter points to Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, who said he will not enforce the ban.

“It's really meaningless to pass a law if it's not going to be enforced,” Fichter said.

Fichter also called for financial support for pregnant people and young children. Other proposed bills would fund organizations and grant programs lawmakers say would support pregnant Hoosiers and families.

“If we're going to pass legislation, we need to show love and compassion for the moms, the families and the babies, not just give lip service to it,” Fichter said. “And we think some of the financial packages are doing exactly that on the House side.”

State Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) also criticized the proposed bill and wants a stricter ban.

“We have a bill being heard today, SB 1, that includes broad exceptions with minimal enforcement mechanisms,” Brown said. “I have shared with leadership that my constituents and I are extremely disappointed that proposed legislation could leave our unborn babies, even those past the point of viability,  without protection in our state. Abortion doctors don't care and they won't be deterred. Senate Bill 1 as introduced cannot stand.”

People of all ages, including families with children, attended the rally. Several medical professionals were also in the crowd.

Internist Dr. Jason Kippenbrock said he believes that based on science and medicine, being anti-abortion is the right thing to do. He’d like to see the state provide more support to families after a birth.

“I took a Hippocratic oath when I became a physician to serve my patients and protect the most vulnerable,” Kippenbrock said. “I hope to see the Indiana state legislature enact laws that … protect the unborn, but also support women who are carrying these pregnancies to term and then after they give birth and providing some additional resources.”

Throughout the rally, participants prayed, chanted and sang.

Angela Minter, founder and president of Kentucky-based Christian non-profit Sisters for Life, repeatedly told the enthusiastic crowd that “the same God that overturned slavery overturned Roe v. Wade.”

Minter said that as a teenager she had an abortion. She said God told her to “educate people” and that women “deserve better than abortion.”

“Sometimes when it's legal, you think it's right as a teenager, so it's important for you to go and make sure it's not legal, so young people know what's right,” Minter said.

Rally participants were encouraged to text their state legislators and write notes demanding a stricter ban on abortin access. Alyssa Rosselli traveled several hours to Indianapolis from La Porte for the rally.

“We finally have a chance to protect unborn children in Indiana,” Rosselli said. “And their mothers too. People say abortion hurts women’s rights, but it hurts women too. And we’re just here to ask our legislators to help us help them.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to meet in the coming days to discuss proposed amendments.

They have through Aug. 14 to complete their work, because Indiana special sessions are limited to 40 days. When Gov. Eric Holcomb officially called for the special session, it was meant to begin July 6, and that's when the 40-day clock began.

Contact reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @helloimdarian.

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