Indy 500: Drivers' Fiancees Sporting Controversial T-Shirts Spark Reaction From Social Media

Ahead of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26, the fiancées of Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, sported gray T-shirts with bold white lettering in support of abortion rights — a controversial topic in recent weeks, that has divided many Americans.

Newgarden’s fiancée, Ashley Welch with Simon Pagenaud’s fiancée, Hailey McDermott, took to the qualifying races last Saturday, May 18 to wear T-shirts that read, “Not YOUR Body, Not YOUR Choice” while at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Welch, who took to social media to share a photo of herself wearing the shirt, told the Indy Star that while she and McDermott were nervous to wear the shirt for fear of taking the focus away from their partners’ big day, they was blown away by the support for the women’s rights.

“I can never tell you how many people have given me fist bumps,” Welch told the publication.

Fans on social media also chimed in with their support in a slew of tweets after the photos went viral.

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(Photo: Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Freedom of speech. What makes America great,” one user wrote, with a tweet that garnered a handful of likes.

“Where can I get mine?” asked one, while another user chimed in, “Proud of them. Takes guts to take a stand, especially in that setting.”

“Hell yeah - if you have a platform of any kind, PLEASE use it. This discussion belongs absolutely everywhere. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” another added.

One fan contemplated the move, asking, “Certainly have the right to do this but wonder if their future husbands sponsors, backers, etc appreciate this stance? Always want to remain neutral when fighting for $$$ and fans.”

With the controversial move though, came its fair share of comments against abortion altogether with users commenting how it was “selfish,” with one even asking, “Since when is an unborn baby’s body the same as the mother’s body?”

The shirts worn by Welch and McDermott were in direct response to the recent passing of restrictive abortion laws in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Utah. However, Indiana is among a handful of states getting ready to limit abortions in an effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court overturn its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

The Indy Star reiterates in its report that anti-abortion policymakers have been making it problematic for women to get abortions for quite some time now, through intricate steps like, requiring “two visits to a doctor and trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood facilities.”

While there is still a long way to go in the fight for women’s rights, McDermott says the efforts she and Welch made in the Indy 500 qualifiers was something the two “conquered” together.

“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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The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 airs May 26 on NBC, with festivities starting at 11 a.m. ET.

Photo credit: Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images