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updated: 4/9/2016 4:31 PM

Abortion supporters criticize Pence at Statehouse rally

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Hundreds of abortion rights supporters gathered Saturday at the Indiana Statehouse to protest an anti-abortion law signed by Gov. Mike Pence that is among the most restrictive in the U.S.

Some waved signs reading "Fire Mike Pence" while speakers took turns criticizing the law, which bans abortions sought because of fetal genetic abnormalities.

Rachael Himsel, of Bloomington, held a large banner that said "Stop This Pencestrual Cycle." She says the new law amounts to lawmakers intruding in a private decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor.

National backlash to the law has been building, and the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky have also sued the state, calling it unconstitutional.

The Republican governor says the law affirms the sanctity of life while still allowing abortions if a mother's life is at risk.

"I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable_the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn," Pence said last month when he signed the measure.

Under its provisions, doctors could be sued for wrongful death or face professional reprimanded if they perform an abortion sought due to genetic abnormality or a fetus' race or sex. There is an exemption for fetuses not expected to live past three months if brought to term.

One provision in the law requiring that all aborted or miscarried fetuses be cremated or buried was particularly galling, said Himsel, who says she once miscarried.

"My fear is that this law is going to cause great danger and pain," said Himsel, 40. "It's so personal. It's not the government's business."

Saturday's rally follows a social media campaign called "Periods For Pence," which criticized the law for being invasive and encouraged women to respond in kind by phoning Pence's office to offer intimate details about their menstrual cycles.

But the rally also drew some anti-abortion protesters, some of whom got into shouting matches with abortion rights supporters.

Abortion opponent Brooke Guerrero said she attended to offer a counter point, but added that she does not support "Mike Pence's law because it still allows for the aborting of some children."

"It is a big crowd here today. I'm not surprised. There are a lot of women who want to continue to have the right to kill unborn children. That's what we're here to stand up against," said Guerrero, 34, of Indianapolis.

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