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The Supreme Court's abortion decision drives people to the streets in northern Illinois

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Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
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Activists for and against abortion rights push their competing messages in front of the federal courthouse in Rockford on the day the Supreme Court cut down Roe v. Wade.

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The U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade on Friday. The ruling declares that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists. Members of Congress from Illinois are sharply split along party lines in response to decision. In northern Illinois, people gathered at several locations to make their feelings known about the ruling.

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Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
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Abortion rights advocates stand in front of opponents at the federal courthouse in Rockford.

More than 100 people showed up for an abortion rights rally outside the federal courthouse in Rockford. For Gerri Hood, the Supreme Court’s decision was a blow to reproductive rights.

“I’m here to encourage others to stand up for abortion rights for women's rights, not abortion rights, women's rights, because this decision today affects how we live and what we're able to do with our lives,” she said. “…A lot of women are gonna die. And it's unfortunate that they don't have the services and options that they need to live comfortably and be healthy and make informed decisions.”

Shortly after the rally, a separate group gathered outside the same courthouse to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling. Father John O’Connor says the decision to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion care was a step in the right direction.

“I hope that we continue to protect the innocent at every stage of life, both in the womb after birth and until natural death, you know, and that's gonna be a fight at the state level, but it's worth fighting for and it's worth dying for, if need be.”

As the Rockford rallies wrapped up, another was getting underway in Sycamore. Dozens of people chanted their opposition to the Supreme Court ruling in front of the DeKalb County courthouse.

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Vani Subramony
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Abortion rights advocates wave signs at drivers at the busy courthouse intersection in Sycamore.

Frankie DiCiaccio was there to advocate and inspire new advocates. DiCiaccio believes that the decision sets a precedent for the possible dismantling of other rights: contraceptives, same-sex marriages, and others specifically written into Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion.

Across the lawn, Andrew King worried about the impact of banning abortion in some states, saying it could go as far as women being prosecuted for miscarriages.

And between chants, Bridgette Fox reminded her fellow protestors and community members they are not alone in what’s yet to come.

“I live in northern Illinois, it’s my home, and I love it. And I want people next to me, I want my neighbor, I want my classmate to know that I will care about what happens to them.”

Access to abortion services will still be allowed in Illinois. State Attorney General Kwame Raoul said he has called on legal advocates to defend providers and women coming from other states.

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker is calling a special legislative session to further protect abortion rights in the state.

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Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.
Vani Subramony is a graduate of Sycamore High School. She attends Case Western Reserve University studying cognitive science and music.