Viewpoint: 'Forced birth legislation' makes me angry … and empowered
by Heidi Beidinger, South Bend Tribune
August 17, 2022
Viewpoint: 'Forced birth legislation' makes me angry … and empowered Heidi Beidinger
As most of us now know, the Indiana General Assembly passed a near ban on all abortion care. Indiana now has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Hoosier women and girls, including my daughters and me, are feeling angry, frustrated and …. empowered?
I am angry because my daughters do not now have the choices I had. Angry that our state legislature failed my daughters. Angry that they failed all of us.
Empowered? Just as Indiana was passing its forced birth mandate, Kansas held a public referendum in which Kansas chose reproductive freedom over forced birth by more than 20 percentage points. In addition, voter turnout in Kansas shot through the roof, with more people voting than any time since the 2018 election.
So, yes, I feel empowered because I believe that Hoosier voters—who support reproductive freedom by more than 85% — have realized that their statehouse reps and senators do not represent them or their views. Indiana’s gerrymandering has allowed extremist Republicans a disproportionate share of political power, and I believe Hoosier voters are fed up with the extremism.
In the last week, I have heard from several former Republicans in my district who have reached a breaking point. For them, Indiana’s government intrusion into what should be personal medical decisions is a bridge too far. Furthermore, my opponent, Dale DeVon, supported a more extreme bill which would have removed the rape and incest exception to the abortion ban, and voted to remove the exception for fetuses with a fatal anomaly. In practice, this means that DeVon believes that a 10-year-old who was impregnated by her father or uncle should be compelled to carry her fetus to term, regardless of the physical danger or the emotional trauma the girl would face. DeVon also does not support practical pregnancy workplace accommodation for working moms. The Republicans passed a watered down version of pregnancy accommodation. They could take credit for passing something, but it doesn't actually do anything.
So how does Kansas’s turnout, calls from recent Republicans and Dale DeVon’s extremist votes make me feel empowered? I think that Hoosiers have finally had enough of the religious extremists making laws in the Statehouse. I think they’re ready to vote for someone like me — a Democrat with a career in the community protecting children from lead poisoning, who doesn’t want to impose my religion on anyone. I know they’re ready to vote, because voter registration requests are swamping the people processing them.
I’m confident, based on the evidence I’ve seen even so early in my campaign, that Hoosiers in St. Joseph County are hungry for a serious legislator who believes in actually listening to and representing her constituency, who believes in the freedom to make our own medical decisions, educate our kids with fact- and science-based education and welcomes all Hoosiers, regardless of their religion, race, gender, sexuality or abilities.
Yes, I feel empowered. And it’s time to empower Hoosier voters as well. Heidi Beidinger is the Democratic candidate for Indiana House District 5.
You can find the the article in the South Bend Tribune here.