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Northern Illinois demonstrators react to projected abortion care facility in the Rockford

Anti-abortion activist displaying sign with aborted fetus
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Anti-abortion activist displaying sign with aborted fetus

Anti-abortion activists demonstrated in Rockford on Wednesday. They are concerned about the potential opening of a reproductive health clinic that would offer medication abortion.

Eric Scheidler is with the Pro-Life Action League. He joined demonstrators at an intersection on the east side of Rockford. Many held signs depicting graphic imagery of aborted fetuses. Scheidler says he’s troubled at the prospect of northern Illinois becoming a destination for women seeking abortion care.

“Well, we're here in Rockford because, you know the state of Illinois becoming an abortion Mecca,' said Scheidler. "The governor has called on women from all over the United States to come to Illinois for abortions. And that has prompted abortionists all over the region to try to establish abortion facilities here.”

Dr. Dennis Christensen is a Madison-based physician who’s been practicing reproductive healthcare for nearly 50 years. He recently purchased two separate buildings with plans to expand the abortion care options in the stateline. Christensen has so far spent over $400,000 dollars purchasing the two buildings.

Christiansen formerly ran the Northern Illinois Women’s Center, the last abortion care facility in Rockford, which in closed in 2012. The Illinois Department of Public Health suspended the center's operating license in 2011, and the facility shut it's doors permanently the following year.

Christensen said in a comment to WNIJ that “it’s important that people have access to the medical services they want.”

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.