There was a fascinating gathering of people Saturday afternoon on the South lawn of the Indiana Statehouse. It was a rally for women’s rights. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a good rally. And this one did not disappoint.
There were a couple of thousand people crowded together on a cold April afternoon to speak out against the recently signed and now infamous Indiana abortion law. But it was more than that. It was a gathering of mostly women making sure their government knew they were unhappy. It is an important gesture, and hopefully the first step of many on the road to a higher level of civic engagement.
Former State Sen. Vi Simpson put it bluntly by saying that the group could make a big difference in our state’s future “if we all do just a little more.” I hope that crowd was listening to her, because she could not be more right.
Sen. Simpson didn’t need to be there that afternoon, but she set the example she spoke about by practicing exactly what she preaches. She has served this state beyond expectation for three decades. She has fought for women’s rights wearing several different hats, and that crowd was lucky she took the time to give one more time. I’m sure it won’t be her last time.
She did just a little more.
Earlier in the week and unrelated to the women’s rally, Megan Robertson was setting a similar example for a completely different crowd. She is an active Republican and has engaged in the challenge of changing her party’s platform by removing language in its definition of marriage as being only between one man and one woman. Robertson has worked on this issue plenty over the last few years, successfully leading the Freedom Indiana campaign to defeat the related constitutional process in 2014.
It would be so much easier for Robertson to walk away from a bunch who is convinced that this issue will someday, some how, return to them. I could even argue that walking away is exactly what she should do. But this matters to her. And there will be a day when the Indiana GOP will look back on this time and admit they owe her a gigantic thank you.
All because she was willing to do just a little more.
Back at the Statehouse on Saturday, the group of rally-happy women and men, were introduced to someone I hope will be active here for years to come. Dr. Katherine McHugh is an obstetrician/gynecologist in Indianapolis. She wrote a provocative editorial for the Washington Post last week on the new abortion law. It is important for someone like her to engage in this. You know, since she knows the pesky science part of it all. Science and data are always welcome partners in a debate when the absence of logic and thoughtfulness have kept it unresolved too long. She brings both.
After her Post column ran, the organizers of the women’s rally tracked her down and invited her to speak at today’s event. Dr. McHugh answered that call. She made one point about the new law that is truly unredeemable. It doesn’t ban certain abortions, but it bans certain reasons for them. That thought control aspect of the bill will lead patients to lie to their doctors. She is absolutely right about that, and right to show us how intolerable that actually is.
Dr. McHugh had done plenty before, but she chose to do just a little more.
These are the things that move Indiana forward. These gestures matter. All three of these women did important things this week. They stood up and acted to defend and promote freedom. But the most important thing each of them did was they set an example.
Unhappiness about the current state of affairs in our government can be inspiring. So can charismatic leadership and an innovative idea or two. But real political change takes effort, commitment, and yes, money. And those are things many of us have to offer.
Once we have decided what truly matters and how empty our lives and communities will be without those things, there really is only one thing left to do. We have to do just a little more.
I have written before that in the American experience, freedom will always ultimately prevail. And history never recalls in a flattering light the things that temporarily kept it from us.
As long as we all keep doing just a little more.