Bans Off Rally brings more than 500 in Springfield

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More than 500 people gathered at a Bans Off rally at Springfield’s federal courthouse on Friday, June 24. The rally was one of several across Illinois after the SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) and the Resistor Sisterhood were the organizers for the Springfield rally.

Brigid Leahy, vice president of public policy for PPIA, said the rally was to get three messages across. First, abortion is still legal in Illinois. Both Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul have both said they will work to make sure abortion remains legal in the state.

“Second, we’re going to fight like hell to make sure it stays that way,” Leahy said.

Third, to call for people to keep turning out as they did on Friday. The rally started at 5 p.m. and was set to go until 6 p.m., but the crowd of pro-choice supporters was still growing even at 6:15.

“We’ve got to ensure people have access,” Leahy said. “We’ve got the rights in our law, now it’s time to make sure there’s access. That there are enough providers and that people have resources so they can actually get the care.”

Pritzker has called for a special session of the General Assembly in reaction to the overturn of Roe. Leahy said there were two main areas that could still be improved.

“Expand the pool of providers, making sure it’s easier for providers from other states to come here and get licensed,” she said. “Recognize that advanced practice clinicians like nurse practitioners can safely perform early procedures.”

The state also needs to provide resources so that providers have the spaces to supply care and work from and so patients can actually reach the care.

PPIA has said that Illinois could see an additional 20,000 to 30,000 out-of-state patients with so many states having trigger laws. Since, many activists had seen the SCOTUS decision as highly likely, many providers had already been preparing. Leahy said that Planned Parenthood of Illinois has opened new clinics in Waukegan near the Wisconsin border and Flossmoor near Indiana. Abortions have already stopped in Wisconsin and many people expect Indiana ban abortion in the coming weeks. Planned Parenthood of Illinois has moved to larger space in Chicago and Planned Parenthood of St. Louis has expanded their clinic in MetroEast.

“Even so, it is really hard to predict how many patients we’re going to have coming here and how quickly,” Leahy said. “So we are gearing up and we need our elected leaders to provide the support to make sure we have as much capacity as possible.”

To support efforts for reproductive rights, you can subscribe to PPIA.org to get alerts, make a contribution at PPIL.org, follow the Resistor Sisterhood Facebook page, and use AbortionFinder.org to find where services are available.

All photos taken by Tom Wray.

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