GOSHEN — A diverse group of people supporting abortion rights gathered on the Elkhart County Courthouse lawn Saturday evening, holding signs up for passing motorists to see and imparting their message that women should have the right to choose.
A couple of women who were waving signs from the sidewalk along North Main Street explained why they felt it was important to attend the rally.
Goshen resident Malinda Wobrock said, “Because I’m a woman, if we want to get an abortion that should be between a woman and her doctor and it should not have anything to do with politics. It should just be about health care — period.”
Emily Klug of Elkhart said she wants nothing less than Roe v. Wade as federal law. And she was also there to call out Democratic lawmakers who offer “basic platitudes on abortion rights, but they don’t protect those rights.”
She also wants the Hyde Amendment repealed. The amendment does not allow federal funds to pay for abortions unless it is to save the life of the woman or from pregnancies that result from rape or incest. And she also wants a Trump-era “gag rule” repealed as well that would have forbidden programs receiving federal money from saying or doing anything to assist a patient in getting an abortion.
Karen Nemes, media coordinator with Pro Choice South Bend, spoke on the courthouse steps before the assemblage of about 20 people, along with organizer Aaron Mishler.
Nemes said, “Access to care is under attack.”
One of the reasons people who do not support abortion have made headway in chipping away at Roe v. Wade, she said, “is because we’ve been shamed into silence about abortion.”
Nemes said that if a person has a constitutional right to privacy, then it doesn’t matter why a person is accessing health care. “It’s nobody’s business,” she said. “It is your body. It is your choice. You have sovereignty over yourself. The fact that we’re still debating this, boggles my mind.”
A study Nemes referred to showed that 1 in 4 women access abortion services in their lifetime, and noted that she recognizes that non-binary and transgender people are also in need of abortion services. In quoting a national slogan, Nemes said, “everybody loves someone who has had an abortion. And I think we need to say that. And I think we need to say that a lot. And I think we need to start sharing our stories because I think that’s going to remove some of the stigma.”
She suggested taking the lead from the LGBQT community when they were going for same sex marriage — “coming out and saying: ‘This is who I am. This is what I deserve and this is what I want.’ We need to do that too.”
So Nemes did what she said and talked about it. “I’ve had an abortion. I’ve had more than one. And it was my business. It was my body and I don’t regret it. I’ve never regretted it. It was absolutely the right decision for me both times.”
Right after making that statement, a woman from the crowd spoke up, “I’ve had more than one abortion.”
Nemes nodded her head and said, “And that’s OK. I don’t think we should hold back anymore. And I understand why some people don’t want to talk about it, but … even by saying the 1 in 4 statistic, we will help people understand a little bit better about what we’re talking about.”
She believes the majority of people support Roe v. Wade, including some Christians.
“When women don’t have control over their reproductive life, they’re not fully human in the same way that men are because they’re not recognized as having sovereignty over their own lives and body,” Nemes said, adding that type of inequality is unconstitutional.
Inequality and “draconian abortion laws” recently passed in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and elsewhere, including Indiana, are what Elkhart resident Mishler said caused him to request a permit from Elkhart County for the rally three weeks ago. “I’m tired of the discussion being dictated by sunglass-wearing men on Facebook.”
Indiana’s law requires fetal tissue remains to be buried or cremated, and that part of the law was on Tuesday upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Mishler said he felt it puts an undue burden and expense on women to make sure remains are disposed of, instead of having a clinic dispose of it with its other medical waste.
Although disappointed that a series of severe thunderstorms likely kept more people from coming to the rally, Mishler said the goal was to let people know there “are many of us who support women and their right to govern their own bodies.”
Sheila Selman can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter at @sselman_TGN or on Facebook at Sheila Selman Journalist.