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Candidates in the 17th Congressional District weigh in on the overturn of Roe v. Wade

Abortion rights supporters and opponents demonstrate at the federal courthouse in Rockford on the day the Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization was released.
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Abortion rights supporters and opponents demonstrate at the federal courthouse in Rockford on the day the Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization was released.

Friday’s Supreme Court decision overturning federal protection of abortion rights is expected to motivate voters on both sides of the issue. Voters in Illinois’ sprawling 17th Congressional district will choose who will face off in the fall for the seat currently held by Democratic Representative Cheri Bustos, who did not run for re-election.

Bustos released a statement Friday in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. She said she was “gutted” by the decision, as a mother, grandmother, and a Catholic:

“The U.S. Supreme Court does not belong in our doctors’ offices, and this attack on personal freedom is a radical departure from what has been accepted as the ‘law of the land’ for half a century.

“In one fell swoop, six justices stripped away the rights of millions of Americans: Survivors of rape and incest are in danger; our medical privacy and autonomy are in jeopardy; and the Supreme Court has just legalized government-mandated pregnancies.

“I fear for the other fundamental rights these justices could take away from us, and for the repercussions that will follow in the future. This is a tragic day for freedom in America.”

Two Republicans and six Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination for the 17th District seat in Congress. Most of them released statements on the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade Friday, and all shared their opinions on social media.

Republican Esther Joy King, East Moline

In a statement posted to Facebook, King said she was “unapologetically pro-life” and supports the Supreme Court’s decision to “return this issue to the people.”

“We have a state issue at stake. Unfortunately, since Governor Pritzker took office, he has ignored the people by making Illinois one of the most extreme states in the nation when it comes to abortion access – going further than even most Americans support.”

Republican Charlie Helmick, East Moline

Helmick posted a short statement on Facebook, acknowledging that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, adding “Thank you President Trump for appointing the justices to protect life!”

Democrat Jonathan Logemann, Rockford

Logemann released a statement saying, “Our worst fears have been realized…

“I am running against a politician who has pledged to ban abortion. It has never been more important to have a representative who will vote to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act to ensure that doctors and patients, not the government, are in charge of making such personal health care decisions.”

Democrat Jacqueline McGowan, Palos Hills

McGowan posted on social media: “I am utterly heartbroken over the US Supreme Court just did to end women’s reproductive rights. It’s more important to vote now than ever before. #roevwade”

Democrat Angie Normoyle, Moline

“Today is a sad and hard day – a day where many women are mourning their loss of rights. I stand with the millions of women who live in states where abortion will soon be banned. I am proud to live in a state that will be a stronghold for abortion access - wherever you're reading this from, be sure to elect pro-choice champions at every level of your government.”

Democrat Eric Sorenson, Moline

Sorenson’s statement called it “a dark day in American history,” and included the following:

“This is an attack on our community, making essential health care more difficult. And yes, abortion and reproductive care is health care. We need doctors to help people make medical decisions, not politicians or judges.

“We cannot accept this result and must demand that Congress pass legislation to codify abortion rights at once.”

Democrat Litesa Wallace, Rockford

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court upends 50 years of reproductive freedom in the United States. It’s an abomination that will sentence people to die.” During a rally Friday afternoon, she told the crowd that this is about reproductive justice. She encouraged them to make a plan of action to protect reproductive rights, then led the crowd in a chant of “We will not go back!”

Democrat Marsha Williams, Channahon

Williams’ social media statement referenced a story she has shared during her campaign about a late-term abortion saving her life.

“Clearly, our lives and our right to bodily autonomy is not a priority for our leaders in Washington for either party.” Williams laid out her plan if elected that included pressuring Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster, expanding the Supreme Court, overturning the Hyde Amendment, and codifying the right to abortion at the federal level, for any reason.