INDIANAPOLIS — For Paris Mayes, who grew up in foster care, her message to lawmakers is personal.

“There’s so many kids in the system that have nowhere to go, nowhere to call home,” she said. “They’re trying to save lives, but they’re not focusing on lives that are already here.”

Mayes was among several others hoping to get their message out. On Thursday, students with IUPUI’s Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE) organized a Reproductive Freedom March, falling on the first day of Indiana’s near-total abortion ban taking effect.

With signs and chats, the group marched from its starting place at Tarkington Park to the Governor’s Residence on North Meridian Street.

“People are very angry. People are terrified. People are sad,” said Noah Thomas, SAFE president. “We shouldn’t have to fight the battles that our mothers and grandmothers fought 50 to 60 years ago.”

In addition to Thursday’s march, Thomas also organized a lineup of guest speakers, including SAFE members, some political candidates and Indiana State Senator Fady Qaddoura. Thomas said his intentions for the event were to spread education, awareness and a call to action to vote.

“Voting matters. Vote, vote, vote!” Thomas said.

“I’m hoping to see changes. I’m hoping that people go out and vote,” said Mayes.

While many spoke out against the state’s near-total ban during Thursday’s march, there were also others who stood a few steps away in support of it.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Alex Yarbor, student.

Just a few months ago, Yarbor said he advocated for a stricter bill at the statehouse. On Thursday, he stood a few steps away from the march’s ending rally, outside the Governor’s Residence, as part of the Life Defenders of IUPUI, a pro-life student organization.

“We were like, well if there’s a pro-choice thing going on, why don’t we have a few pro-life people show up and just try to dialogue and be peaceful,” he said, “and that’s why we’re here. We’re just here, hopefully, to dialogue with people and really come to a place in our society where women don’t have to think of abortion as a choice,” he said.