Protesters demonstrate for abortion rights in front of courthouse


Sydney Laput

Stephanie Slife holds a sign saying “Bans off our bodies” at a protest in front of the Champaign County Courthouse on Tuesday. The protest was held in support of reproductive rights and abortion access following the leaked draft from the Supreme Court.

By Sydney Laput and Willie Cui

Protesters gathered in front of the Champaign County Courthouse at 101 E. Main St., Urbana, on Tuesday in support of reproductive rights and access to abortion. 

The protest was organized by the Uniting Pride Center of Champaign County in response to a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court, which suggested the court is planning to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey — two cases in which the Supreme Court ruled that the right to an abortion is constitutionally protected.

Carol Leff, president of the Champaign County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, explained at the protest that for the time being, abortion would still be legal in Illinois even if the two cases were overturned.

According to Leff, this is because Illinois repealed its so-called “trigger laws,” which would have immediately restricted abortions if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

“So whatever happens to Roe v. Wade, the current situation in Illinois is very different from everywhere else,” Leff said. 

Abby Kauppila, junior in LAS, holds a sign that says “Try not to abuse your power” on Tuesday. (Sydney Laput)

Leff said this is not the case in many other states where there are still trigger laws in place or where state officials plan to restrict women’s access to abortions.

“That’s where we go downhill,” Leff said. “As I looked at it today, a majority of U.S. states are planning to do something to restrict reproductive rights if Roe v. Wade was out, either because they have that trigger law like we used to have or simply because they think it’s a good idea.”

Carol Ammons, state representative for the 103rd district, said at the protest that Illinois “will only go further” when it comes to expanding reproductive health services and abortion access, noting that women from states with more restrictive abortion laws come to Illinois for abortions.

“We will invest into clinics all over our state to make sure that Planned Parenthood can expand, not contract,” Ammons said. “Because we know people from Missouri will come here, and they have been. And people from Indiana have been coming here — people as far as Texas and other places that are red … have been coming here.”

Leff said that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, it would not simply be ignoring abortion rights, but would be taking those rights away.

“Although the Supreme Court ignores rights and has ignored rights for decades, they don’t usually revoke rights,” Leff said. “And in fact, in recent memory, we can’t find a case where they did, except now.”

Martha Mills, president of Uniting Pride, said at the protest that the debate over when life begins is a “red herring, a distraction, a subjective and unwinnable argument that could not matter less.” 

“It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a fertilized egg or a fetus or a baby or a five year old or a Nobel Prize-winning pediatric oncologist,” Mills said. “Nobody has the right to use your body against your will even to save their life or the life of another person.”


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