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Protesters gather at Statehouse to demand abortion stay safe, legal and accessible

Protesters chant and shout at the Statehouse, holding signs that read "Bans replace freedom with force."
Ben Thorp
/
WBAA
Protesters gathered at the Statehouse Monday in opposition to a total abortion ban – with limited exceptions – proposed by Indiana lawmakers.

Hundreds of protesters gathered inside the Statehouse Monday to oppose plans by state lawmakers to ban abortion in Indiana with few exceptions.

More than 250 people signed up to testify on the bill in a Senate committee Monday.

For several hours leading up to the abortion rally chants of “my body, my choice” could be heard throughout the capitol.

The protests were organized by a number of advocacy groups including the ACLU of Indiana and Planned Parenthood.

Katie Blair is the director of advocacy and policy with the ACLU of Indiana. She said thousands of Hoosiers are against the state legislature’s radical plans to ban abortion.

“The restrictions on abortion here in Indiana are already extreme. We don’t need any more restrictions,” she said. “They need to trash this bill.”

READ MORE: What is in Indiana's proposed abortion legislation? A legal expert has some answers

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Rebecca Gibron is the CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Indiana and Kentucky. She said the group will help patients access safe, legal abortion in other states.

“Planned Parenthood across this country is mobilized,” Gibron said. “We are ready, and we will not turn our backs on anyone in this country in a banned state.”

A recent study found that at 1 in 4 Hoosiers seeking abortion already leave the state, primarily heading for Illinois.

Rima Shahid, Women 4 Change CEO, said she opposes lawmakers instituting new abortion restrictions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe.

“I’m here to say: we won’t go back and we won’t back down,” Shahid said. “The Dobbs ruling will impact people of color and people that doen’t have the privilege of economic stability the most.”

Speakers on Monday also included health care and business leaders and some who had already been impacted by Indiana abortion laws.

William Bell told the story of his sister, Rebecca Bell, who he said died in 1988 after becoming pregnant and trying to access an illegal abortion. Bell said Indiana’s parental consent laws impeded his sister's access to a legal abortion.

“The current restrictive laws and the new SB1 that is being discussed today further encroach on a women’s rights,” Bell said. “With additional restrictions being proposed there will only be more women who end up like my sister.”

While some anti-abortion protesters gathered at the Statehouse Monday, Indiana Right to Life, one of the state’s most influential anti-abortion groups, is expected to hold a rally on Tuesday.

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