Three days after the leak of Dobbs’ draft memorandum that would overthrow Roe vs. Wade, I attended a training session for local attorneys.
During a panel discussion on the U.S. Constitution and in response to a question on women’s equality, the panel’s only male attorney sympathetically acknowledged that the U.S. Constitution does not currently guarantee women equal rights, and congenially opined that there is no way it could Equal Rights Amendment is now being passed.
The lawyers on the podium and in the audience responded to this proclamation with silence. We can no longer remain silent.
The United States Constitution does not guarantee women rights to property, education, birth control, health care, divorce, or custody. Every woman’s rights depend entirely on the now uncertain rulings of the US Supreme Court and the state in which she lives.
The South Carolina Supreme Court recently ruled that women have a right to privacy under their state constitution. The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that their state Bill of Rights does not apply to pregnant women. It is still said that “all men” have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Men used to not get pregnant. sorry ladies Their right to reproductive health care and physical autonomy remains the subject of patriarchal politics in Idaho.
What rights do women have in Indiana? We are waiting to see.
In the wake of the Dobbs ruling, Indiana called a special legislative session to pass an abortion ban with very limited exceptions. Challenges to the ban have been filed in Monroe County and Marion County, and injunctions have been issued in both. The Indiana Supreme Court heard hearings on Monroe County’s injunction last week, and comment was expected to be forthcoming.
To be clear, the court’s decision will be on whether the injunction should apply while the case is pending, not on the final questions. However, in deciding this injunction, the court must consider the likelihood of success based on the contention that Section 1 of Article 1 of the Indiana Constitution provides women with the legally enforceable right to bodily autonomy and self-determination.
Article 1 of the Indiana Constitution is our state Bill of Rights. Section 1 explains that all People are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Only until 1984 men were guaranteed inalienable rights in Indiana.
A second injunction was issued in the Marion County case under the Indiana Restoration of Religious Freedom Act. The state has also requested a surrender to the Indiana Supreme Court in this case, but at this time the court has neither accepted nor denied the surrender.
In her order granting Marion County’s injunction, Judge Heather Welch found that Indiana’s own statutes do not confer the legal status of humans on zygotes, embryos, and previable fetuses.
She further noted that in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the US Supreme Court recognized that when life begins is a religious question that the state may not be able to answer in law or as a matter of fact.
The politicization of women’s health and human rights only further divides our already polarized nation.
We are all entitled to our own deeply held beliefs, and we don’t have to agree on everything to find common ground and work together. We can choose people over politics.
We are all Americans. We share the same basic needs and the same desire for freedom. We all want to create a better world for our children. If we create a better world for Everyone Children, let’s create a safer world for our own children.
This is my prayer for 2023:
• May the Indiana Supreme Court uphold the inalienable rights of women People
• on life, liberty, freedom of religion, health care and bodily autonomy.
• May our elected leaders break away from obstructionism and religious ideologies to work together and represent all Hoosiers.
• May every eligible Hoosier register and vote for qualified candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to public service.
• May we all stop looking at each other through the binary, tribal lens that divides us and come together for the good of our state and our country.
Laurie Gray is Legislative Coordinator for Indiana NOW.