Many of those lined up on Route 14 in Crystal Lake Monday “feel we don’t have a lot to celebrate this Fourth of July,” said Mary Ewert, an organizer of the rally. They feel “our rights have been taken away,” she said.
Ewert, a Crystal Lake resident who is part of McHenry County Citizens for Choice, was among the local activists, politicians and residents who came out for the abortion rights demonstration Monday. An estimated 300 people attended the gathering, fellow organizer Ed Gogol said.
An impromptu protest was held in the same spot the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that said abortion was constitutionally protected.
“There is a widespread feeling the Supreme Court is out of control” by overturning Roe v. Wade, adding that the 50-year-old ruling was supported by a majority of Americans.
Some on the crowd said this was the first time they had attended a protest. Others said they’ve been activists for years, working to get abortion rights codified in the state.
A few told their personal stories of abortion.
Emily Lopez, of Elgin, told the crowd that she wanted the baby she was carrying in 2016. But the fetus’s lungs were not developing and the intestines were forming in the chest cavity. The only real option to prevent a short and painful life while still protecting her own chances of future pregnancies was an abortion, she said.
She was able to get pregnant again with in vitro fertilization treatments, Lopez said, and now has twin daughters.
Lopez now works with a support group for both mothers and fathers who may have to chose terminating a pregnancy.
“They come to us for support, mothers and fathers from all over the world,” Lopez said.
No one wants to have an abortion, she said, or is pro-abortion.
Kerri Connor, now 52, of Ringwood, was one of the protestors standing on the curb. Connor said she married young and was in the process of getting a divorce at the age of 19 when she discovered she was pregnant. She didn’t know when she scheduled the procedure that it was an ectopic pregnancy, Connor said.
But, Connor said, had she not had the procedure done, she might not have the three children, four stepchildren, and nine grandchildren she has now.
Long-term activists like Nancy Schwab, 72, of Woodstock, helped organize the event. She said she’s been fighting for women’s rights since she was 23 and started McHenry County’s first National Organization for Women chapter. Then, she was working to support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Back then, keeping her own name following her marriage and getting a credit card in her own name with a full time job were the things she fought for, Schwab said.
For 15 years, Schwab said, she and others worked in Springfield to codify abortion rights in the state.
There will likely be more protests scheduled in the coming weeks and months, Gogol said.