On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that asserted that abortion was a protected right. Within hours, a rally was held on Martin Square in downtown Homewood, sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Organizer Addie Zwick said the rally was an opportunity for people opposed to the court’s decision to gather and give voice to their views.
“We’re really just gathering to show outrage at this decision,” she said. “It’s overturning 50 years of precedent and is going to make abortion inaccessible for millions of people.”
Zwick said about 75 attended the rally, which included opportunities to volunteer at Planned Parenthood.
“Some of them shared their own stories about their experiences with abortion,” she said. “People who felt moved. We just wanted to give people a community space.”
Planned Parenthood is expecting 20,000 to 30,000 additional patients coming from out of state in the coming year. Illinois is one of only two upper Midwest states with strong abortion access protections in place. According to a Politico report, abortion access is illegal in Missouri and Ohio and uncertain, blocked or disputed in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky.
Planned Parenthood, which has a clinic in Flossmoor, is seeking volunteers to help with a range of support for women who seek care, including escorts who help women enter clinics safely.
But the organization is also planning to provide more help getting past the barriers that often prevent women from seeking care, including helping them find childcare, housing and doctors notes for work.
“We’re going to be trying to channel this energy into other more proactive actions, things that will help people come to Illinois to get the abortion care that they need,” she said. “And fight back.”
One family came to the rally from Northwest Indiana.
Maria Turpin said the family had long been advocates for reproductive rights. When she and her husband got home from work on Friday, they learned about the Supreme Court decision.
“My daughter said we should do something,” Turpin said. They found the announcement about the Homewood rally online and headed over.
Elected officials in the area also weighed in on the court’s ruling.
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-2nd District), who is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, said she was outraged by the Roe decision, which she characterized as an attack on women’s health.
“This decision will have an extremely detrimental impact on women’s healthcare, especially in the face of our worsening maternal mortality crisis,” she said. “More mothers are going to die.”
She noted that Black, low-income and rural women will bear the brunt of the reduction in abortion access.
“However, this is an attack on the personal freedom and bodily autonomy of every single person living in the United States,” she said.
Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller (D-6th) said she was “profoundly disappointed” in the ruling, noting that generations of minority women have suffered from unequal access to health care, including abortions.
“Black women in the United States continue to experience unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes, including disproportionately high rates of death related to pregnancy or childbirth,” she said.