About 150 gather to show dismay with Supreme Court
Chanting phrases such as “Women are not incubators,” “We won’t go back,” “We want rights,” “My body, my choice,” “We deserve to choose our fate” and “Abort the court,” about 150 area residents gathered June 27 outside Wayne County Courthouse to make their voices heard.
A handful of residents showing their opposition to abortion mixed in with the larger group upset with the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, now putting states in charge of determining their own restrictions on abortion.
Local protesters wanted to get their voices heard quickly after the June 24 ruling, because Indiana Republicans have announced their intentions to reduce abortion access when they return to the Indiana Statehouse on July 25 for a special session.
“During this session, we expect to pass legislation to make Indiana an even stronger pro-life state that supports mothers and babies and explore ways to provide financial relief to Hoosiers,” State Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) announced Friday in a news release.
However, the vast majority of those present at the event haven’t shared Raatz’s views on the topic. A couple of rally participants took the megaphone to urge voter registration to support pro-choice candidates in upcoming elections, such as Raatz’s opponent in the fall, Ron Itnyre, a Richmond Democrat who attended the gathering.
Some of the people present also wanted to show their concern that other individual rights could slip away as well once doors have been opened through this federal court ruling.
Participants spread out, standing along the high-traffic South A and South Third streets, and expressed delight when any passerby honked support for their views.
Toward the end of the two-hour rally, a few representatives of both sides of the argument became too close together in a face-to-face confrontation on the sidewalk, and after what could be described as a brief pushing incident, a Richmond Police Department officer escorted two people away from the crowd to reduce tensions. A handful of additional officers quickly arrived for crowd control, and the event ended peacefully.
Chandler King of Richmond and her 1-year-old daughter, Lily, were part of the gathering, as King held a sign referring to Justice Amy Coney Barrrett as “Amy Coathanger Barrett.”
King said she is a mother by choice and was ready for the challenge, but not everyone is. She said the topic is an important fight because it’s a slippery slope to begin taking away something so personal between a woman and her doctor. She said she had a really difficult pregnancy and almost died.
“Pregnancy changes your body, your mind, everything,” King said. “A child changes everything, and it’s so important we give women that choice … If men could get pregnant, this wouldn’t be a discussion.”
America is flooded with children already needing loving homes, King said, and those against abortion should be willing to adopt or provide other support to help women and children.
Deb Force of Richmond described herself as one of the older women present who wants to take a stand to preserve the rights already established for women.
“I’ve fought for my rights my whole life,” Force said, noting her age of 70. Force expressed concern that if Americans don’t speak up now, that other women’s rights – even their right to vote – could eventually be taken away.
One protester held a sign saying “Why are we fighting a battle our grandmothers already won?” while standing near a sign that showed “Abortion = Murder.”
Elaine Jennings of Centerville is concerned that several generations have had reproductive freedom, and those rights are being taken away from today’s young women.
“My mother had a choice, I had a safe and legal choice, and now my children don’t have that choice,” Jennings said.
She said it’s ironic that some speaking out against abortion also have been opposed to COVID-19 vaccines and wearing masks, asserting during the pandemic that it was their body and their choice.
Cody Jennings, Elaine’s son, held an “I’m with her” sign to show support for his mom’s views as well as those of friend Ally Shepard of Richmond. Cody said he is concerned about protecting rights to birth control as well as gay marriage because he’s concerned both could get ripped away now that Roe v. Wade has been reversed.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that other previous cases establishing constitutional rights to contraception and gay rights (including same-sex marriage) should be reviewed because they are based on interpretations of the Due Process Clause.
Cody Jennings said he’s heard that those in same-sex relationships should begin making their wills and living wills to make sure their final wishes are honored, and Americans should have the opportunity to “marry who they want to marry and love who they want to love.” He called the current climate “scary.”
Benjamin Guard of Richmond said that access to abortion, contraception and gay marriage are important issues for young adults, and they have the energy to make their voices heard when they’re concerned about losing those rights.
“It’s such a paramount issue that a person might not have the ability to control their own future – it is so mind-breaking,” Guard said.