rallying for women’s rights at the statehouse

Becca has recently become an active member of Indivisible. We all know the outcome of the Indiana’s legislative special session. But with people like Becca, the pro-choice protesters and all of us Indivisibles we can win this fight. Her story is inspirational, frightening and heartbreaking. One of our best tools is messaging with stories. Tell this one and your own. And keep contacting your legislators; contact info is at the bottom of this post. We won’t give up.

My experience at the Pro-Choice Rally in Indy:

Hi! My name is Becca, and I am from Northern Indiana. I am part of the Nasty Women of Kosciusko and have been involved in poll work for the last two elections. I have an engineering degree and have been working in the medical device industry for 20 years. I was raised conservative but have become more liberal as I have gotten older – I intensely dislike the slow erosion of rights disguised as ‘smaller government.’ I am also a history buff, especially American History, and the intrusion of church into state is wrong and needs to be stopped. I am a married, working mom of three, and I am fully a mother by choice, for choice.

I went down to Indy for the Pro-choice rally on July 25th, the first of many that has happened over the last two weeks. I went with a friend, just so neither of us were alone. This was our second rally – our first one was last October.

The overturning of Roe vs Wade has so many implications beyond just abortion rights – this will impact ALL women’s health. It’s so unbelievably narrow-minded of legislators and pro-life advocates, that they can’t see that making abortions illegal will only end up with more dead women. If it is not via abortions performed illegally, it will be by the lack of women-specific care; doctors who cannot take care of their patients in the best way possible will not practice in Indiana. We went to add our voices – we had to do SOMETHING.

Our first impressions as we were looking for parking was just how MANY people were there. There are two entrances to the State House, and both had lines – in fact, the lines overlapped halfway around the building. Most of the people we saw seemed to be pro-choice, but there were a few sporadic pro-life signs. Once we joined a line, we started chatting to the people around us – it was a good mix of genders, and everyone was friendly. The energy was good – at first. As the line grew, more pro-life people were behind us, and within about 30 minutes, we saw our first big confrontation. After that, the energy was a mix of positive and unease.

Our goal was to get inside the statehouse – we were not planning to testify or anything, but we wanted to watch the proceedings (and at that point, we thought VP Harris was in the Senate chamber). So, we joined one of the lines. We waited about an hour before we were told that no one else would be let into the chambers. So, we joined the crowd at the east entrance of the State House – the protesters ended up closing the street in front of the building. Eventually the crowd started a march around the building to the West side, so we joined that march. On the West side, we were able to climb a set of stairs to see the crowd and observe various confrontations from there. At some point, enough people had left the statehouse that they re-opened the entrance and allowed people to come in. We were able to get inside and see the crowds of people on the third and fourth floors all watching the televisions of the Senate proceedings and yelling – it was so very loud. The sounds just reverberated throughout the building. Again, I would say pro-choice was the predominant presence.

As I mentioned earlier, the mood at first was good, but over time it became uneasy. I say that from a personal perspective; I felt like at any moment someone might get into my face. There were multiple confrontations that we witnessed, and they were often just short of pushing and shoving. The police had a large presence and stepped into situations where it looked like it could escalate. To give some examples:

  • When we were outside waiting in line, the pro-life group behind us (mostly men, but some older women), started confronting people in the opposite line with pro-choice signs. One man stood out – very tall, bald, in a blue shirt. He would start talking to an individual in a calm voice, but increased in volume as he spoke, and you could tell he was preaching – he held a bible in his hands. I’m sure he thought he was doing good by trying to bring people ‘into the light’, but he was super aggressive, targeted individuals, and didn’t listen – just talked. I saw him multiple times, and each time he had a woman in a position where she could not get away quickly or easily, and he loomed over them all, proselytizing.
  • A group of three men, dressed all in black including black baklavas, walked up and down the lines carrying a Greek orthodox flag and another red, blue, and white striped flag. They had a bullhorn and were shouting “it’s not your body!” Again, very aggressive, and would yell in people’s faces.
  • An individual man with a long beard and rough clothing was walking around with a sign that had a dismembered baby – he would run up to a woman with a sign, get right in her face, and yell “You’re going to HELL!” and then run off to the next woman.
  • There was another man in a blue shirt with a huge sign that had a dismembered baby on it, and he kept confronting groups of women and just shouting – it varied. He tried to push past women on the stairs, yelling the entire time. He was eventually escorted away by police.
  • Inside the building, there was a string of people all with various pro-life signs, including dismembered babies, which would just wind its way around the inside of the State House. They were booed regularly by pro-choice people. This group of people included men, women, and teenagers.
  • Inside the building, there was a small group of men that would come up behind people standing at the railing and just shout “baby killers!” “keep your legs shut!” etc.

A few positive examples:

  • A pregnant woman was walking around with an older woman. She did not speak, but she carried a sign that stated something along the lines of “we are pregnant now because Dr. Caitlin was able to abort the prior pregnancy that was endangering my life”. She was so brave to do that.
  • Pro-choice people were handing out water, walking around making sure people were registered to vote, etc. I saw so many kinds of people on the pro-choice side – all genders, all sexualities, all minorities, all walks of life represented. On the pro-life side, I saw mostly white men and women.
  • I was standing near a woman with a bullhorn when she said that they are delaying the Senate hearing because the pro-choice groups were too loud. It was such an emotional rush to know that we were having an impact – just made you want to scream louder!!
  • The community within the pro-choice group was amazing – people were helping each other up steps, finding places to rest, encouraging each other to keep yelling and cheering. It was uplifting.
  • The echoes of “MY BODY MY CHOICE” inside the State House gave me goosebumps – it was incredible.

We left with strong but mixed emotions. Encouragement and an uplifted spirit simply by knowing that we are not alone in our opinions and thoughts. Unease because of how many of the confrontations that we witnessed were so close to violence, and unease because of how morally superior the pro-life group was – they honestly believed we were all monsters.

Now, I am just heartbroken. I’m afraid for my daughters and son, growing up in this environment. I am scared of what comes next. I am also so very angry – so many people have sacrificed so much to get women and minorities the rights they have now. We need to push as a people against the aggressors, the extremists, the violence – they have won a battle because of a very long game. We need to re-focus on the long game AND we need to find one voice with one focus. Just voting is not going to do it – we need to get people on school boards and local government to bring the voice of the people back. We are a majority, but we just are not present where it counts. Sacrifices need to be made again.

Contact your state representative and senator.

Contact Governor Holcomb.

Contact your U.S. Congressman

Contact Senator Braun. Call him at (202) 224-4814

Contact Senator Young. Call him at 202-224-5623