Health Indiana News

Thousands of protesters descended on the Indiana capitol building Monday for the first day of a special legislative session that includes a proposed abortion ban

Senate Bill 1, which state Republicans announced last week, would outlaw abortion in most cases. It includes exceptions for rape or incest, to save the life of the pregnant patient, or if there is a fatal fetal anomaly. 

“It’s an awful bill,” said Rebecca Gibron, acting CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky.

Gibron said it was important for the crowd to show up and make their voices heard. 

“Today was so inspiring,” she said. “We had thousands upon thousands of Hoosiers turn out today for the rally. In fact, we couldn’t even get them all into the capitol building.”

Aprile Rickert | wfpl.org

Protesters the Indiana Statehouse on Monday as lawmakers consider an abortion bill.

Hours after the session started, a line of people waiting to get in the statehouse still stretched around the large city block.

Those who made it in time attended a rally hosted by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and others. People continued to file inside after that, many loudly chanting phrases like, “My body, my choice,” outside the Senate gallery.

Outside the statehouse, protestors left signs, including some reading “Abortion is health care” and “I hope I have as many rights as a gun someday,” along the statue at the entrance.

Aislynn Lacy, who was there to fight for reproductive rights, said she feels the bill prioritizes the fetus over the pregnant patient. She carried a sign reading, “Women are not sacrificial.” 

“Women are people,” she said. “We have lives, we have careers, we have dreams, we go to school, we do things. And I feel like this bill puts a stop to all of it.”

A majority of people at the capitol appeared to be against the ban, though many were there to support the restrictions.

Aprile Rickert | wfpl.org

Hosanna Sisson, 17, front, prays for an end to abortion with 16-year-old Raelyn Smith at the Indiana Statehouse.

Hosanna Sisson, a 17-year-old with the group Abolish Human Abortion, was praying with another girl ahead of the start of the Senate hearing. 

Regarding the crowd size, Sisson said she thinks “it’s impressive how many people have an opinion, on both sides.”

But she said she isn’t happy with the bill’s current exceptions. Instead, she wants to see a total end to abortion. 

“The bill that they’re presenting would not abolish abortion,” she said.

Sisson said she hopes this bill doesn’t pass and that lawmakers can bring forward the Indiana Protection at Conception Act, which would completely abolish abortion in the state. It’s been introduced multiple times over the past several years without success. 

“I pray that Christians will stand for the truth,” Sisson said.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.