The Supreme Court’s conservative majority ended federal protection of abortion by overturning landmark case Roe v. Wade on Friday morning. The new ruling allows states to ban abortion and make abortion laws on a state-by-state basis.
Reactions from people across the Illinois Valley were mixed. Some women, such as Jill Shevokas, said it is a step backward for women’s rights.
“They shouldn’t have done it,” said Shevokas, who was interviewed at Peru Mall. “Abortion should be a non-issue, women should be able to do what they want with their bodies.”
La Salle resident and mother Amanda Manahan’ Moisant, who also was interviewed at Peru Mall, said she began crying when she heard the news.
“It’s horrible,” Manahan’ Moisant said. “I would never personally do it [get an abortion] but it should not have been overturned.”
Her daughter, Briane, agreed. She said she is angry at the Supreme Court’s decision. “It’s a sad day because an unborn child has more rights than an adult does over her own body.”
Other Illinois Valley residents, such Betty Delgado, who serves as the pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in La Salle, said she supports the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“As far as I am concerned, all children should be able to have a life,” Delgado said. “I don’t think a little child should have to die.”
Ladd residents Katie Beaber and Kaitlynn Donovan, who were shopping together at Peru Mall, said they believe the ruling is a mistake.
“I think every woman has the right to choose,” Donovan said.
Stand For Life Ottawa is a “pro-life” group of people who want to restore protections for unborn children and support mothers, group member Andrew Moore said. The group has hosted events in Ottawa encouraging the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Moore said the Supreme Court’s decision is a new beginning for the “pro-life movement.”
“It returns the question of abortion to the people,” Moore said. “It’s going to look different in every state ... but here at Stand for Life Ottawa we’re going to do what we have always done, which is making sure that Ottawans and people in the area are educated on the humanity of the unborn child.”
Nicole O’Shea organized Stand with Planned Parenthood in 2016, a group unique to the Illinois Valley dedicated to supporting Planned Parenthood clinics. The group rallied this spring in Ottawa in favor of women’s reproductive rights. O’Shea said the ruling is a travesty for women everywhere and asked if the country is ready for a baby boom.
“These women are now going to be forced to carry these babies, but we’re not going to give them the tools to support them,” O’Shea said. “And the products they’re going to need to raise their children are going to be hard to get.”
Illinois is unlikely to see abortion access restricted. Gov. JB Pritzker said in an announcement Friday his plan is to expand abortion rights for women across the state in response to the Supreme Court’s decision.
Both Moore and O’Shea said they predict women will travel from other states to Illinois in order to access abortion.
“There needs to be so much more support for mothers so that no mother feels like her only choice is abortion,” Moore said. “Illinois is going to become really critical, and we’re going to have our work cut out for us,” Moore said.
O’Shea said it’s sad women will have to come to Illinois to get an abortion, but said she is prepared to support them by continuing her work with Stand for Planned Parenthood.
“We not going anywhere,” O’Shea said. “We’re going to stand up and fight. We’re going to fight for women everywhere.”
Northern Illinois Associate Professor Kathryn Cady, whose specialties include feminist theory and critical and cultural studies, said Roe v. Wade wasn’t just about abortion rights in 1973. It coincided with a societal evolution that saw women’s status shift in the home and workplace.
“When Roe v. Wade was upheld in a 7-2 decision, women’s position in the labor force, their earning power, their ability to have a career and to be breadwinners, it has really kind of incredibly expanded in the last 50 years,” Cady said. “That is not entirely because of the right to have an abortion, but that certainly plays a role.”
With women’s roles and responsibilities expanding outside of the home, legalized abortion also meant greater access to reproductive health care for women from varying demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, Cady said. That also gave way to family planning with room for a professional role and increased household income.
“Restrictions on women’s rights to abortion disproportionately harm women with more limited financial means,” said Cady, who added she personally believes it’s a woman’s right to have an abortion.
“This is not going to stop abortion,” Cady said of the court’s ruling. “It will just be worse on women’s health and worse on women’s economic standing.”
Those seeking the procedure may have to travel further at more expense to obtain a safe and legal abortion, Cady said.
“Women being able to plan their families the way that they think works best for them just leads to more financial opportunity and better life outcomes,” said Cady.