By Leslie Bonilla Muniz

Indiana Capital Chronicle

Oct. 17, 2022

Nearly two dozen Indiana Democrats on Monday committed to restoring abortion access and helping women in other ways as they signed a “contract with women” — in an election-year bet on Hoosier women.

Republicans are leading their messaging with inflation, and argue a focus on abortion won’t work on Election Day.

“With this contract, we are making sure that women know we have their backs. We will fight for their bodily autonomy and personal freedom, and against extreme government overreach,” said Democratic state Rep. Carey Hamilton (above, center) of Indianapolis at a news conference.

Republicans, she said, voted against the will of the people when they approved Senate Bill 1, Indiana’s near-total abortion ban, in August. It is currently on hold in a court challenge.

The elected officials and candidates sought to align themselves and the Democratic Party with female voters and potential voters.

“Only the Democratic Party is fighting to protect women,” said Democrat Rep. Cherrish Pryor, also of Indianapolis.

And they hoped to translate that concern over abortion into not only votes, but a blue wave, on Election Day.

“I know why I’m going to win on November 8. I’m going to win because Hoosier women are going to show up in massive numbers to vote to protect their rights. I know because first-time voters are going to show up in massive numbers to vote to protect their rights,” said longtime Democrat Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, who’s challenging U.S. Sen. Todd Young for a seat in Congress.

LGBTQ voters should also turn out because “our community does not have to guess on whether or not we’re next,” said state Sen. J.D. Ford, the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the Indiana General Assembly.

Justice Clarence Thomas argued in his Dobbs v. Jackson concurring opinion that the court should reconsider its past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

Even Democrat candidates whose offices don’t directly relate to abortion joined, including Destiny Wells, a candidate for Secretary of State — Indiana’s chief elections officer — Treasurer candidate Jessica McClellan and Auditor Candidate ZeNai Brooks.

“We’ll be there to make sure that the programs and policies that they fund to help mothers, to help families actually get spent that way through the state board of finance,” McClellan said. “We like to say [that] when the lights go off on the Statehouse floor we are there every single day to make sure that those policies and programs are being put out to all Hoosiers.”

Not just abortion

Asked if Democrats were overly focused on the message of abortion, Indiana Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson said, “That’s why when you look at the contract, a lot of the bullet points are economic-focused.”

The “contract with women” includes restoring abortion access, but also expanding contraceptive access, improving the state’s maternal mortality rate, passing workplace protections for pregnant women, repealing hygiene product taxes, boosting childcare and creating a statewide pre-kindergarten program.

“This is why we wanted to broaden out this contract and not just focus on the freedom to choose, because while that’s very important — and that is an economic issue at the end of the day — we have to address other economic issues facing women and families,” Anderson added.

Asked how Democrats would deliver on their commitments when Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly, Hamilton said, “If voters come out on November 8, we will turn the tide at the Statehouse.”

Republicans say abortion won’t hand Democrats voters or victory.

“As we saw this morning in the latest New York Times poll, which showed a 32-point swing among independent female voters toward Republicans since last month, Democrats continue to be out of touch with women and everyday Americans and the issues they’re facing — all due to their failed agenda,” said Indiana Republican Party spokesman Luke Thomas in a statement to the Capital Chronicle. “While they continue to focus on rhetoric, we’ll continue to focus on delivering results and tackling the issues that matter most.”

Indiana Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Indiana Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Niki Kelly for questions:


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