South Bend March for Life continues with new ban in place

NOW: South Bend March for Life continues with new ban in place

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It's been less than two years since the Supreme Court's "Dobbs" decision which overturned Roe v. Wade. Now, the abortion debate is at the state level, and Indiana is, in many ways, leading the charge, passing a near-total abortion ban. Friday, anti-abortion advocates took to the streets of South Bend to continue fighting for their cause, ending the peaceful march at the downtown federal courthouse.

"We've certainly made strides here in Indiana, but there are lots of threats around us," said Antonio Marchi, executive director of Right to Life Michiana, "Now that it's up to the states, public opinion matters a whole lot."

Friday's march coincided with the national March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Indiana is arguably a leader in the anti-abortion movement, the first state to pass an abortion ban after the "Dobbs" decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

"Obviously there are still mothers who need help in Indiana," said marcher Merlot Fogarty. "We know that there are still women traveling out of state to get abortions who are living in Indiana. So having the witness to life here is still super important."

"A big focus this year for a lot of pro-life people has been really helping moms," said marcher Kate Luegers. "So, if they are choosing life, get the goods they need. The women's care center's been ramping up all their stuff and a lot of churches around the area have just been doing anything they can to say, 'alright moms, we didn't mean to burden you, we're here to support you.' so a lot of people have been really ramping up the mom support."

Alternatively, organizations like Pro Choice South Bend believe anti-abortion laws are bad for women.

"I think any time you remove somebody's full agency and take away their individual right to their own bodily autonomy and their own choices, that's bad for people," said acting director Karen Nemes. 

And some are working to connect people with abortion care regardless of the changing state laws.

"If somebody in Indiana still wanted to get an abortion, that's absolutely possible in a neighboring state, like let's say Illinois or Michigan," Nemes said. "There are organizations like Midwest Access Coalition and other regional abortion funds that can help provide all kinds of practical support."

But with the state's near total abortion ban, numbers are down.

Marchi, leader of Right to Life Michiana, cited reports that show the Hoosier state used to have over 700 abortions per month.

"Abortions across the state as the laws have changed, the numbers have dropped quite a bit," he said. "In august we had 52 abortions reported performed in Indiana, in September, I believe it was 14."

And while pro-lifers celebrate this, they also say the fight is far from over.

"Well, today we solemnly remember more than 65 million children that have been lost to abortion in the past 51 years since Roe v. Wade," Marchi said. "We are pleased with the strides that we're making, but we'll keep pressing forward until every life is valued as precious."

Despite that new law, a Ball State University survey shows nearly 60% of Hoosiers believe abortion should be legal in most cases.

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