Dueling protests show deep divide over Dobbs ruling

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Maria Aguayo stood near the front of the pro-life rally Saturday morning to pray and celebrate what she sees as the end of abortion.

Her dog was lying in the grass at her feet and her three daughters — Guadalupe, 14, Lourdes, 11, and Fatima, 13 — were nearby. She and her family had come to the rally “to ask God to protect the babies in the womb and the mothers and the families.”

The dueling rallies on the Indiana Statehouse lawn one day after the U.S. Supreme Court issued the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade provided a glimpse into the divide over abortion as well as starkly differing views of what a post-Roe America will be like.

On one issue both sides seemed to agree: The Indiana General Assembly will soon be enacting more restrictions, if not a total ban, on abortion.

The pro-life rally was clustered on the southeastern corner and was a peaceful and strongly religious gathering. Many of the speakers said prayers and several members in the crowd had blue printed signs that read, “Pray for Life and Love.”

Aguayo said she rejoiced and prayed when she saw the announcement on Facebook about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson. “He listened to our prayers,” she said.

As for the post-Roe world, Aguayo said she is optimistic. She said prohibiting abortions will be better for women, but she noted society will have to be more compassionate toward families and will “have to love each other, beginning with the unborn.”

Across the grounds on the west side of the Statehouse, a throng of pro-choice supporters packed the Bicentennial Plaza. They held homemade signs, signaling their anger at the court ruling and their determination to keep abortion legal. One woman held a large piece of poster board on which she had written, “I do not regret my abortion.”

The pro-choice supporters started rallying Friday evening on the steps of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis. They listened to speeches, chanted and at one point, a small group stood at the base of the steps and unfurled a long sign that read, “We will not go back.”

Lynne Martin, 65, was at the rally in disbelief. She was in high school when the 1973 decision legalizing abortion was handed down, and although she did not pay much attention then, she “never, never, never” thought the right would be eliminated.

Martin spent part of her Friday protesting on Monument Circle, not so much for herself as for the girls and young women who, she believes, will be harmed without Roe’s protections.

“I have five granddaughters,” Martin said. “I can’t let them grow up to be second-class citizens.”

Anti-abortion advocates celebrated Saturday after the U.S. Supreme Court returned the question of abortion to the states. (IL photo/Katie Stancombe)

During the pro-life rally Saturday, some of the pro-choice advocates marched in and stood between the group and the speakers. Mostly the protestors were silent, but they held signs above their heads that read, “This is fascism” and, “My body has more restrictions than your guns.”

Behind the pro-choice protestors, a pro-life rally member held a sign, “Hun, Roe’s Done.”

A contingent of Indiana State Police troopers arrived and formed a line between the two groups. The Rev. Rick Nagel of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church was speaking to the crowd and helped maintain the peace by saying, “We love everybody on the lawn.”

Some of the pro-choice and pro-life rally advocates engaged in conversations, but none erupted into shouting matches or physical violence.

Timothy O’Donnell was among the pro-life advocates who spilled onto the sidewalk. He held a sign and told passersby that “All life is precious.”

Like Aguayo, O’Donnell said he is buoyed by the Supreme Court’s ruling and said women deserve love and support, especially those in a “crisis pregnancy.” He described abortion as a “deep wound on the conscience of America” that will take time to heal.

“I love them,” he said of the pro-choice advocates. “I want what’s best for them. … I want to offer them a way for hope and healing.”

The chants and cheers from the pro-choice rally could be heard at the pro-life rally. Many of the abortion rights advocates were reluctant to leave the protest, so they marched around the Statehouse and down Market Street.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department blocked traffic for at least 20 minutes as the protestors flowed toward Monument Circle while they held their signs, chanted and cheered loudly when drivers honked their car horns in support.

Pro-abortion advocates gathered in front of the Indiana Statehouse on June 25 to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. (IL photo/Katie Stancombe)

At the Circle, they filled the steps of the Monument.

Friday evening, Nikki McCall had stood on those same steps holding a sign that questioned if the Supreme Court would next overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 ruling that legalized same sex marriage. She said she had traveled from Kokomo to join the pro-choice rally because, having had an abortion at age 12, she “had to be here today.”

McCall, 21, called herself a pessimist and said she is disheartened that having followed the advice to vote for pro-choice candidates, her voice and the voice of other abortion rights supporters were not heard. The change being brought by the Dobbs ruling, she said, will take “years to fix.”

“It’s sad,” McCall said, “that an AR-15 has more rights than my uterus does.”

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