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Hailey Mcdermott, Simon Pagenaud’s Fiancée, Isn’t Afraid to Show Where She Stands on Women’s Rights

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During the Indy 500 qualifying races held on Saturday, May 18th, the fiancées of Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, wore gray T-shirts with bold white lettering supporting abortion rights. Newgarden’s fiancée, Ashley Welch, alongside with Hailey McDermott, Simon Pagenaud’s fiancée, wore T-shirts that read “Not YOUR Body, Not YOUR Choice” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

What’s This Protest All About?

They chose to wear the T-shirt in response to the recent adoption of restrictive abortion laws in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Utah. There are also more than fourteen other states strongly on the same path. These state legislatures are adopting more restrictive laws aimed at reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling stating that a right to privacy protects a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Recently, the Alabama senate passed the nation’s most restrictive ban on abortion, prohibiting it all together, even in cases of pregnancies resulting from rape or even incest. Under this bill, doctors will face 10 years in prison for attempting to terminate a pregnancy and 99 years for carrying out the procedure. A woman who has an abortion would not be held criminally liable, and abortion would only be allowed in cases where the mother’s life is at serious risk.

Albeit being nervous at the possibility of taking the spotlight away from their spouses, the two women were surprised by the public reaction over their gesture. Photos of the two went viral, as did the tweets commenting these. These posts did include negative comments against abortion and women’s rights.

“I understand it is uncomfortable for us to speak our mind, especially about this right now, in the political climate we are in,” said McDermott. “But let’s make the people who have done this to us uncomfortable. I feel like I conquered something today. I am pretty quiet, but today I wasn’t.”

How Did Simon Pagenaud React?

Although not speaking out directly on the matter, Simon Pagenaud, after finishing his laps, asked McDermott to join him for a photo on the track. Beside her fiancé on the bright yellow car, she sat tall and smiled, proudly sporting her T-shirt.

McDermott and Pagenaud began dating in 2016 after meeting at an Indianapolis Convention Center trade show. They got engaged early last year. McDermott, a San Diego, California native later moved to Indianapolis to be with him. Earlier this month Pagenaud revealed to Indystar, “We’re living the life right now,” he said, “Hailey is a great support in my life”. The couple currently lives in North Carolina.

Read more about Simon Pagenaud’s Indianapolis 500 win and his visit to the White House.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about this topic, you’ll also like our other blog on women and the NBA!

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