INDIANAPOLIS — Ashley Newgarden, the wife of 2017 IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden, and Hailey McDermott, fiancee of 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud, wore "Not YOUR Body, Not YOUR Choice” T-shirts Saturday during Indy 500 qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The shirts were in response to the recent passage of restrictive abortion laws in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Utah.
“I feel like I conquered something today," said McDermott. "I am pretty quiet, but today I wasn’t."
At first, McDermott and Newgarden said, they were nervous to wear the shirts, for fear of taking the focus away from their partners.
“I can never tell you how many people have given me fist bumps,” said Ashley Newgarden.
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Hailey McDermott, right, and Ashley Newgarden, sported pro choice T-shirts during Saturday's qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. (Photo: Grace Hollars/IndyStar)
Anti-abortion lawmakers have been making it more difficult for women to get abortions for years, by taking such steps as requiring two visits to a doctor and trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood facilities.
Now some state legislatures are pushing through more restrictive laws aimed at reaching the U.S. Supreme Court and overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling by the court that a right to privacy protects a woman's right to choose to have an abortion.
The Alabama senate last week passed the nation's most restrictive ban on abortion, prohibiting it in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.
Hailey McDermott sits with her fiance, Simon Pagenaud, Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo: Grace Hollars/IndyStar)
After Pagenaud finished his laps, he asked McDermott to join him for a photo on the track. Sitting on the bright yellow car, McDermott sat tall and smiled.
“I understand it is uncomfortable for us to speak our mind, especially about this right now, in the political climate we are in, that is not what we are trying to fight,” said McDermott. "But let’s make the people who have done this to us uncomfortable.”
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