Indiana Right to Life - Survey Response

By michelle
Indiana Report Card

After I filed as a candidate to run for Indiana House District 60, I started receiving surveys from various political organizations eager to vet candidates on their specific issues. The survey deadlines vary, and this one demanded a response by March 1st, 2024. I contacted Indiana Right to Life on February 21st, 2024, asking for citations to specific legislation that they reference, but it is now March 1st, and I have received no response. On the survey it reads, “Due to space limitations, comments will not be included in our voter education material. Copies of comments will not be made available for public review.” 

So here are my comments for your public review. 

[For more on my personal journey towards a holistic view of reproductive justice, I invite you to read my essay Aspiration vs. Policy, written in 2022, after Indiana’s near-total ban on abortion (NB: it is written from my Christian faith perspective).]

Something that deeply concerns me when it comes to these surveys is what I call the zero-sum game. We’ve all seen them - the candidate scorecards. For nonpartisan groups that focus on multiple issues, the scorecards can be very helpful. That’s not what I received from the Indiana Right to Life organization. As a single-issue survey, I found its design dangerous, and I’m going to tell you why.

While they say they welcome comments, they offer no way to utilize these comments to educate the public on how candidates will address a crucial matter that affects 2/3rds of the population: women and children. In this survey, every candidate's position is essentially reduced to a binary choice: Yes / No

Do you know what else uses binary language? Machines. Do you know who are not machines? Women.

One of the questions asks me if I support an uncited Indiana law prohibiting abortion based solely on a baby’s race, sex, potential disability, or Down syndrome. This question opens the door to policies of Eugenics, and my answer is unequivocally no to Eugenics.

Most of the questions ask if I support an uncited Indiana law that inserts the state legislature between me and my medical provider. I do not believe this government overreach centers on the dignity of children and the lives of women.

I am unashamedly pro-lifetime. I believe the sanctity of life spans the entire life of a child - even when that child has grown into a grandparent and is on their deathbed. Forced birth is not pro-life. The direction current Republican policy is leading us does not support life. I believe in the bodily autonomy of women. What this means is that I am fiercely protective of a woman’s right to decide how she approaches the incredibly personal choice of her reproduction. What this looks like is advocating for accessible comprehensive reproductive healthcare, child tax credits, family leave and incentive programs that support the family unit, clean air, water, and soil, housing habitability standards, and something as basic as pregnant worker accommodations that the Indiana State legislature has failed to implement multiple times. 

When Hoosier moms needed advocates at the Statehouse for pregnant worker accommodations, I was there. Where were you, Indiana Right to Life?

What I’ve seen in my lifetime is that the Pro-Life movement has disregarded the nuance of what it means to bear life, and it silences the voices of thousands of women like me. Women who have stories that are not morally binary, and that require an understanding of reproductive justice. A yes/no survey reducing my reproductive needs to abortion and pressuring blind allegiance to uncited Indiana law simply does not do justice to us. It divides us, and diminishes our power. 

So today I’m standing up against the false narratives these types of surveys perpetuate. When organizations like Indiana Right to Life claim to provide voter education material, and it is a binary survey, they are not educating anyone. They are maintaining the status quo of 20 years of Republican supermajority rule that has made Indiana:

  • Among the 10 worst states ranking highest in maternal mortality rate and the worst in accessibility to healthcare; 
  • A state that ranks 3rd in most unaffordable childcare and the most expensive in the Midwest; 
  • A state that provides the 2nd fewest licensed childcare facilities in the country while ranking 4th in the highest rate of kids pushed through a dysfunctional foster care system;
  • And a state that leads the nation as the worst in the country for environmental health protections for pregnant women and children, creating the 7th highest infant mortality rate in the country. 43% - the largest portion - of Indiana’s infant mortality in 2021 was perinatal risks.

What kind of leadership is this?

I say no more to this zero-sum game.  

I’m committed to Building Bridges, Empowering Hoosiers, and fighting for an Indiana that works with us, not against us. I would love your support in standing up for everyday Hoosiers in the Statehouse. And if you live in House District 60, please vote for me, Michelle Higgs, for State Representative. 

Thank you.

- Michelle

Indiana Report Card

Sources: Environmental Integrity Project / Child Care Aware / World Population Review / Foster Success / CDC / Forbes Advisor / Hoosier Action Resource Center
*Shoutout to MadVoters for compiling Top 10 Reasons to Run for Office in 2024