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Nearly 100 say ‘hands off my body’ during Sycamore rally amid Supreme Court abortion ruling

Protesters wave to passing cars Friday, June 24, 2022, during a rally for abortion rights in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore. The group was protesting Friday's decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion.

SYCAMORE - About 100 people gathered outside the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore Friday to protest the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade, a nearly 50-year-old decision that protected abortion under federal law.

Those gathered held signs that said “Hands off my body,” “Separate church and state,” and “Abortion is essential health care.” The rally was one of several rapid response protests that organizers planned across the nation through We Won’t Go Back, a national campaign to protect women’s rights and access to abortion.

“I wouldn’t be here if my mom didn’t have an abortion before I was born,” said Lynne Johnson, 56, of Sycamore. “She had an ectopic pregnancy. She had to have an abortion basically in order to save her life.”

For Johnson, coming out to the rally was about family, too. She has two grown daughters and a daughter-in-law who are old enough to have kids, she said.

“This is a big deal,” Johnson said. “My daughter had to … medically consider an abortion because of a pregnancy that went bad. It’s something that should be a medical procedure and normal.”

With Roe v. Wade stricken by the Supreme Court, states can decide whether to allow abortion. As of Friday, 13 had already passed laws that greatly reduced access or largely banned abortion, including surrounding states of Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky.

Abortion will remain protected under Illinois state law, however. Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday called for a special session of the Illinois General Assembly to further those protections.

For healthcare worker Kelly Casey, 42, of Algonquin, abortion is a part of a woman’s right to choose, she said.

“In healthcare, we’re supposed to advocate for our patients and if we’re not advocating for our patients by demanding safe healthcare, then we’re going to have a bigger problem on our hands,” Casey said. “We need to make sure that women have the right to choose what they do with their bodies.”

Casey made that decision herself, once.

“It was my decision to make,” she said. “That’s the point.”

Her experience came down to health risks, she recalled.

“It was an unplanned pregnancy and I’m a high-risk mom,” Casey said. “I chose to have an abortion so that I could continue my life how I wanted my journey to go and have a pregnancy when it was planned and when it was safe.”

Casey said she found out about Friday’s rally while she was at work, and decided to come straight there where she met up with her kids.

“More people need to use their voices so we’re heard,” Casey said.