Heart of the River hosts Protest Paddle


To protest the onslaught of legislation threatening women’s reproductive rights, at home and nationwide, Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) will orchestrate a rally this Tuesday, March 8, on the south lawn of the statehouse, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Seventeen state bills have been introduced that would restrict abortions — the procedure and its funding sources. On a national scale, U.S. Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has been instrumental in furthering these moves, focusing on the organization’s use of federal funds.

“Ending an innocent human life is morally wrong and so is taking the tax dollars of pro-life Americans and using them to fund abortion,” he said in a statement Thursday after a congressional bill, HR 3, passed through committee. “I commend the House Judiciary Committee for eliminating taxpayer funding of abortion through a variety of means by passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

In Indiana, HB 1205, which would strip all federal funds from women’s health clinics like Planned Parenthood, was killed shortly after it passed a House committee vote, thanks to a Democratic walkout, which has kept the statehouse at a standstill.

PPIN has been quick to remind the public that funds allocated by the state from the federal government’s Title 10 program are devoted solely to other family planning and general health services — funding things like birth control, Pap smears and STD testing for economically disadvantaged women — not abortions.

"This bill would cut off health care to 22,000 low-income women and men who depend on it from a provider they trust,” said Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of PPIN. “It makes no sense. It defies logic.”

In denouncing the bill, PPIN has also asserted it would cost the state roughly $68 million in Medicaid expenses, as more women would be likely to have unintended pregnancies without sufficient access to contraceptives.

Rep. Matt Ubelhor (R-Bloomfield), the bill’s author, has since countered this, explaining that county health centers and other clinics that don’t perform abortions also provide these services and would still receive Title 10 money.

Though temporarily stalled, HB 1205 would again jeopardize women’s health rights if reintroduced once the session resumes.

The Democrats’ walkout can only go on for so long. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) announced that, beginning Monday, a fine of $250 would be issued to each legislator for every subsequent day of absence. Democrats don’t seem to be taking the bait, if the latest statements by Minority Leader Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) are any indication of party consensus. If and when they do return, however, one can only assume that Republicans will come back from the forced hiatus with renewed vigor in tackling their social agenda.

Striking out in opposition to these intentions, PPIN says its Rally to Protect Our Patients will serve as an opportunity for supporters to “send a loud and clear message that lawmakers should stay out of reproductive health care.”

To RSVP for the rally (encouraged but not required for participation), visit www.ppin.org. Registration begins Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville), Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson) and Cockrum are all slated to speak before the crowds once the rally kicks off at 10:30.