Abortion-rights advocates rally in Rockford

The landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which came down in 1973, made abortion legal in the United States.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - After the leak of a draft of a Supreme Court decision that could overturn the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade abortion-rights decision, several people took to area streets to voice their concerns.

“We’ve been fighting this my whole life,” said Dale Dunnigan, vice president of Winnebago County Citizens for Choice. “My entire life, we have worked to make things better for all of us, not just some of us.”

When Roe v. Wade passed in 1973, Dunnigan says she was a recent college graduate and no stranger to the struggles over reproductive rights.

“In 1970, I went to a campus doctor with horrible menstrual cramps to request the birth control pill,” Dunnigan recalled. “And he had to know all about my personal life.”

Now, Dunnigan fears we may relive that time, and she will not stay silent.

“We have to keep our bodies for ourselves,” Dunnigan said. “My body belongs to me; your body belongs to you.”

Other abortion-rights supporters said they fear our younger generations will lose the right to choose what they want to do with their bodies if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

“My daughter is 18 years old. She called me very upset. We had a long discussion today,” said State Rep. Dave Vella, D-68th District. “She’s a freshman in college and she’s freaked out.”

“Banning abortion doesn’t mean that abortions won’t happen, it just means they wont happen safely, and women will die,” said Women’s March Rockford board member Megan Brechon.

But legal experts say even if the Supreme Court follows through with the draft, it will not ban abortions across the country. Each state would make that decision for its residents.

In 2019, Illinois passed legislation that declares a pregnant person has the right to terminate their pregnancy and that a “fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent rights.”

“I will not ever let society tell me that I should regret something that made my life possible,” said one rally member. “You love someone who has had an abortion; everyone loves someone who has had an abortion, whether they [are aware of it] or not.”

Local supporters of choice plan to hold more protests outside the federal courthouse in the coming weeks. Rockford Family Initiative, an anti-abortion group, will hold a rally from noon until 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at North Mulford Road and East Riverside Boulevard in Loves Park.

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