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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student


Indiana Democrats make promises for women’s rights during their statewide tour


The Indiana Democratic Party launched its “Contract With Women” statewide tour Oct. 17. They will be making over a dozen stops across the state until Oct. 28 an effort to draw in politicians to sign a pledge with women which includes seven promises that aim to restore and improve women’s healthcare and workplace protections.   

The seven promises are restoring abortion protections at the federal level, expanding access to contraceptives, improving Indiana’s maternal mortality rate, passing workplace protections for women — especially for pregnant women, repealing state taxes on hygiene products, improving access to healthcare and creating a statewide prekindergarten system.  

As part of the tour, on Oct. 21 they stopped at Dunn Meadow in Bloomington. Some of the Democratic candidates who made an appearance included Destiny Wells, Tom McDermott, Matt Fyfe, David Henry, ZeNai Brooks, Penny Githens and Jessica Mclellan.   

Deborah Widiss, professor of law at the Maurer School of Law, said the Democrats’ contract highlights the lack of support for women’s rights in Indiana state policy.

Related: [How Indiana healthcare is adjusting to the legal challenges imposed by Roe v. Wade overturn]

Passing workplace protections for pregnant people would ensure employers have a responsibility to provide support for pregnant employees to maintain their safety and health during pregnancy, she said.  

She said it is especially important as changes to abortion laws in Indiana could force pregnant people to carry high-risk pregnancies and to need accommodations at their workplace. Those accommodations and support can be as simple as being allowed to sit down rather than stand for work, or having companies offer paid leave since Indiana currently does not require it, she said. 

“Employers should be doing their part to provide support to pregnant workers,” Widiss said. “Knowing that you can go to your boss and ask for these kinds of support would make a big difference in the experience of working while pregnant.” 

She said there have been reports of women getting fired after announcing their pregnancy at work or getting replaced when on leave for their pregnancy. Widiss said currently it is not clear when pregnant women can ask for support at their workplace and when support is required.

Related: [Indiana court temporarily blocks Indiana abortion ban]

Bell Pastore, vice president of IU Student Government, said the Indiana Democrats proposed this contract because it is a major issue for reelection, and it shows how much they care about women and pregnant people’s right.  

“It is a really good display showing that there are people in the corner of women and people who can reproduce,” Pastore said. “If Democrats were to have more presence in the statehouse, I do think there are some things that could happen that would truly benefit people.”  

She said the promises in this contract during an election are something individuals are going to have to keep an eye on. Democrats will need to be held to these promises if they win, she said. 

 Pastore said, as a woman, it’s comforting to see Democrats not give up on women’s rights, and the contract serves as a reminder that women and allies shouldn’t give up fighting for women and pregnant people’s rights.  

“I cannot stress this more than anything — get out and vote — get your friends to vote, get your family to vote,” Pastore said. “It is such an important election, not only in our state, but the people that we send to the federal government and to the people that we send literally across the world.”  

Marjorie Hershey, professor emeritus of political science at IU, said with abortion rights being taken away, it has made individuals have a negative view towards the Republican party which has aided Democrats. Democrats are wanting to emphasize their pro-abortion rights platform, which is being positively received by voters, Hershey said.

Related: [IU-sponsored insurance will cover abortion travel up to $2,000 beginning in 2023 for IU staff members]

“Democrats have an advantage generally with women voters and Republicans have generally an advantage with men voters,” Hershey said.  

The logical response the Republican party has done is ignoring the Democrats’ contract and emphasizing their issues they believe they have an advantage in she said. Those issues are concerns about the economy, specifically inflation and taxes, Hershey said.  

She said she hopes Democratic voters understand how important the Supreme Court decision on abortion is and how it will affect people’s lives.

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