Robyne O’Mara is old enough to remember when abortion was illegal in the 1960s and early 1970s.
“Classmates who got pregnant had no choice,” she said Wednesday at a pro-choice rally in East St. Louis. “They were children who had children. Their lives were changed forever. They could not complete their studies. They were forced into poverty.
O’Mara, 66, of Godfrey, was one of 40 people who showed up at Ironworkers Local Office 396 to cheer on Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and other Democrats who support the right to ‘abortion.
Several speakers warned of the looming threat of an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in 1973. This decision is applauded by life advocates who view abortion as murder.
Illinois Sen. Christopher Belt, D-Swansea, noted that more than 25 states already have laws restricting the right to abortion. He encouraged people to make sure Illinois continues to protect them.
“Rally around the causes you care about and vote,” he said.
Three years ago, the Illinois General Assembly passed and Pritzker signed the Illinois Reproductive Health Actthat makes decisions about reproductive health a fundamental right.
“We support women in Illinois,” said state Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis.
Belt alleged there was a “threatening plot” by some people to roll back personal rights, not only those associated with abortion but also contraceptives, interracial marriage and civil unions.
Pritzker’s office organized Wednesday’s rally a month before the June 28 primary election, when Democratic and Republican voters will choose their candidates for the November 8 general election.
All Republican candidates in statewide elections oppose abortion rights, and some do not believe in rape or incest exceptions, according to the governor.
“Decades of right-wing extremism have finally brought us to the brink of the post-Roe reality we feared,” he said. “Countless Republican-controlled states and legislatures are failing their residents, criminalizing reproductive health care and putting millions of women at risk.
Other speakers at the rally included Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an abortion provider and chief medical officer for the St. Louis and southwestern Missouri area Advocates of Planned Parenthood.
McNicholas described “gross, unscientific and harmful” restrictions on abortion in Missouri, which has only one provider, Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, where she works.
The state also has a “trigger law” that would ban abortion in most cases if the United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
“The consequence of banning this critical care will fall largely on the most marginalized communities and most profoundly on those who hold identities that intersect with multiple oppressions – Black, Latino and Indigenous communities, low-income people, LGBTQ people , immigrants and people living in rural areas. areas,” she said.
President Amanda Depew, a US Air Force veteran, focused on the challenges faced by military women seeking abortions under federal law.
Circumstances in Missouri led Cindy McMullan, 62, of Columbia, to attend the rally.
“I was a teenager when abortion became legal, and I can’t believe we’re backing down,” she said. “I thought this fight was over. My daughter lives in Missouri, so I’m mainly here for her. If she ever needed an abortion, she could be prosecuted.
Many people held up signs on Wednesday that read: “Ban our bodies,” “Abortion is health care,” “I support Planned Parenthood,” and “Protect safe and legal abortion.”
There were no anti-abortion protesters.
“I’m here because abortion is unsafe nationwide, and thank goodness we live in Illinois, where women’s rights are supported, not suppressed,” said Southwestern Illinois member O’Mara. Democratic Women.
“But we need to stand up and support women in other states. They are in grave danger. Without access to abortion, women will die.
This story was originally published June 1, 2022 1:54 p.m.