Above Photo: Hoosiers gathered to protest the leaked opinion of the Supreme Court on considering overturning the ruling of abortions on Tuesday, May 4, 2022, at Monument Circle in Indianapolis. Protestors for abortions were met with counter protesters in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade. Hollars / IndyStar.
Tensions were running high Wednesday evening in downtown Indianapolis as protesters both for and against abortion met in demonstrations at Monument Circle.
The crowd of at least 500 people was made up mostly of pro-abortion rights activists, with about 25 anti-abortion protesters. Police blocked off nearby streets as the two groups converged at close distances, sometimes yelling at each other.
The pro-abortion rights group chanted “abortion ban has got to go” and “we stand with Roe”, while the anti-abortion group chanted “we are the pro-life generation and we will abolish abortion.”
Anna Benz, 35, of Castleton, said Wednesday was the first protest she has ever attended.
“Realizing Roe vs. Wade could actually be overturned was kind of a wake-up call,” Benz said. “The right to choose should be an individual choice. The government shouldn’t have any hand in that. If we lose the right to our bodies, what do we have left?”
Nidian Limon, 20, of Indianapolis, marched with a sign that said, “keep abortions safe” and “choose choice.”
“There shouldn’t be lawmakers making decisions on what I do with my body,” Limon said.” I should make my own decisions. I should have access to my form of healthcare and my rights shouldn’t be denied.”
Mary Carmen Zakrajsek, 22, of Indianapolis, is the Indiana Regional Coordinator of Students For Life and helped organize the anti-abortion protesters Wednesday.
“We felt it was important to show the rest of Indianapolis that abortion is violent,” Zakrajsek said. “Abortion actually oppresses and exploits women. The Supreme Court has a historic opportunity to overturn the violence of abortion.”
Protests erupted across the country after news broke Monday of a draft opinion by the Supreme Court, which appeared poised to reverse abortion rights by overturning Roe v. Wade and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The initial draft of the opinion was leaked and then reported by Politico. The court was expected to issue an opinion in late June or July. A possible reversal of abortion rights has inflamed similar protests and demonstrations across the country since.
Tuesday saw about 90 protesters of the draft opinion in Indianapolis, who shared feelings of anger and disappointment.
Several organizers of Wednesday’s event spoke to IndyStar reporters about why they wanted to demonstrate.
Derek Ford, who uses he/they pronouns, is an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Ford said the group put the event together in less than 48 hours because they “knew masses of people would be outraged.”
“We believe that this is where the real source of political power comes from, is from the people organizing,” Ford said, adding the group aimed to provide an outlet for the anger he said many people felt following the leak of the draft opinion.
“We believe healthcare is a human right …and that includes abortion and everything related to reproduction,” he said.
Sam James, a PSL organizer who uses they/them pronouns, said the organization knew they had to do something as soon as they heard of the SCOTUS leak.
“I felt my stomach drop,” James said, on hearing the news. “I knew that my comrades were going to be organizing right away. And I knew that I had a network of people I could rely upon in this time.”
Everland Wells, 24, is an organizer with the PSL who uses she/they pronouns. She said the group organized because “we want to be able to help people.”
She said she was “outraged” when they heard the news about the SCOTUS brief and the court’s intent to overturn Roe vs. Wade, but also “wasn’t surprised.”
“America was founded on oppression. … My people came here enslaved,” Wells said. “Our communities within the LGBTQ community are actively oppressed still to this day.”
Ford said the amount of people who showed up to demonstrate support for abortion rights showed the “growing progressive movement in (Indianapolis) that’s not represented in the political establishment.”
“That’s where change is made,” they said.