Signs held above their heads, a handful of people stood on the corner of Kirkwood Avenue and Walnut Street, projecting their voice over the noise of passing cars: “My body.”
A chorus from over a hundred people standing on the steps of the Monroe County Courthouse echoed back at them: “My choice.”
Demonstrators gathered at the courthouse on Friday evening to protest for the right to access an abortion, the same day the Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The court’s decision returns the right to regulate abortion to individual states after protecting abortion access at the federal level for almost 50 years. In doing so, more than an estimated 36 million Americans will lose access to abortion, according to research from Planned Parenthood.
“I honestly believe that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is the beginning of a lot of rights of minorities being overturned,” rising IU senior Abby Lourdaj said. “I don't think it's just a reproductive issue or just a women's issue — I think it's a minority issue.”
Messages such as “We will remember in November,” “Free abortion on Demand!” and “Expand the Supreme Court” were sprawled on homemade signs made out of poster board, cardboard and even styrofoam. Event organizer Haley Powell provided signs and markers for demonstrators.
Powell said that despite the Indiana Statehouse being in Indianapolis, it is important to show support all over the state as well. She said that not everyone has the resources or ability to travel for protests.
“We have to recognize that not everyone has that experience of living in these kind of Democratic strongholds in Indiana,” Powell said.
Powell is a student in the IU Maurer School of Law and a member of the school’s chapter of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, an organization advocating for reproductive rights and education. Powell brought a sign for demonstrators to add their definition of reproductive justice, which she said she plans on hanging up in the law school.
“Education is power,” Powell said. ”If these people are involved in our movement, that means they're taking their institutional power and using it for reproductive justice.”
Earlier Friday, Senator Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, said in an emailed statement that the court’s decision is not pro-life, as it puts people’s lives at risk who may be forced to endure risky pregnancies or who may seek an abortion in dangerous ways. Other Indiana lawmakers, such as Governor Eric Holcomb, believe that the Supreme Court’s decision is a step in the right direction.
Heather Farmer attended the protest at the courthouse and echoed Yoder’s message. As a parent herself, she said she does not believe that anyone who does not want to be pregnant or in a caregiving role should have to be.
“I always envisioned myself as a parent, and it's something that I find very fulfilling,” Farmer said. “But, having lived through strenuous pregnancies and postpartum health interruptions, not everybody has the privileges and support in place that I do.”
Nate Powell brought his children — Everly, 7, and Harper, 10 — to the protest.
“It’s important for any family who's raising kids today,” Powell said, “to recognize that we are, without exaggeration, at the precipice of losing a lot of fundamental rights and norms that we have taken for granted throughout our lifetimes.”