Community members, students shocked by abortion decision

Abortion+rights+activists+demonstrate+in+front+of+anti-abortion+activists+outside+of+the+U.S.+Supreme+Court+Building+on+Friday.

Photo courtesy of Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS

Abortion rights activists demonstrate in front of anti-abortion activists outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on Friday.

By Faith Allendorf and Sydney Wood

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the right to an abortion is not protected by the U.S. Constitution, overturning two of its previous decisions — Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The majority opinion, a draft of which was previously leaked in early May, paves the way for nearly half of the states to roll back abortion rights. There is also a possibility that several other states will drastically reduce access to abortion in the following months.

Emma Darbro, sophomore in LAS and co-president of the University’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action, said that while the ruling was expected, the news Friday morning was still “a hard pill to swallow.”

“It’s a sad day in America that we lose our right to bodily autonomy, and I don’t think I would have ever imagined that I would see that day,” Darbro said. “I was in therapy when I heard, and I started cursing in the doctor’s office.”

Hrant Kebantsi, an organizer for Champaign-Urbana’s Party for Socialism and Liberation, said he was “horrified” by the decision.

“This is another attack by the Supreme Court on the rights of working people, specifically on the rights of women,” Kebantsi said. “It’s hardly out of character of the Supreme Court, which upholds the power of the ruling class to strike down the basic rights of working people.”

Kebantsi, who identifies as a man, said that men’s role in supporting abortion access is to fight in solidarity as if it “were our own rights.”

“We should be acting as this is our own rights, it shows that really,” Kebantsi said. “We should be fighting in solidarity with other people.”

For Darbro, a longtime abortion rights activist, the overturn cranked up the importance of her work. She said that Illinois will remain a “very integral” part of abortion access in the Midwest.

“I think the most important thing PPGA can do right now is continue to support our commitment to abortion access,” Darbro said. “I think it’s really important to continue supporting students and validating their experiences.”

According to a map by The New York Times that is tracking abortion access in each U.S. state, Illinois’ neighbor states — Kentucky and Missouri — issued a total ban of abortion. Other neighboring states — Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa — are most likely to issue bans.

Illinois will keep abortion access in the state legal and see an influx of people coming from neighboring states where the procedure is now illegal, according to a statement released from the office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

“Illinois will be a safe haven for the exercise of your reproductive rights,” Pritzker said in a Friday afternoon statement. “Roe v. Wade is still the law, and it will remain the law as long as we have a pro-choice legislature and a pro-choice governor.”

In other states, some women have already turned to Illinois to receive access to reproductive health services, like birth control.

Meagan Mercado, junior in ACES, said she has a friend in Iowa who couldn’t access birth control in her state, so she began getting it from Illinois a few months ago.

“I feel like Illinois is fine,” she said. “But other states, you know, I have concerns for them that they won’t be able to get the care they need.”

Although she described herself as anti-abortion, Mercado said her stance applies only to her body, not other women’s. She said the overturn feels like a “slap in the face” for women’s rights.

“I’m more sad for the people who have no other choice and turn to abortion,” she said. “For myself, I don’t think it’s a victory per se, I just feel kind of weird about it because, for myself, I was always like, ‘It’s never an option,’ but for others, I’m like, ‘OK, do what you want.’”

Melissa Seecharan is a junior in college from Texas, but she’s on campus this summer doing research with the University’s REACH Program. She said she’s been following what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been doing regarding Texas’ Heartbeat Act that was introduced in the fall, but she didn’t expect abortion access to be restricted on a nationwide level.

“At least in Texas, Greg Abbott sees that he’s up for reelection,” she said. “There was at least some hope that maybe he could be challenged, but now it feels a lot more overreaching, so it feels like this is something that we can’t change as easily by just kind of switching out the governor.”

As the Illinois primary election voting season approaches, Marissa Arnett, senior in AHS, said she’ll vote for someone who will defend women’s rights. She said the government often doesn’t listen to women’s voices and that she’s worried about the future of women and children in the U.S.

“Regardless of what your opinion is on abortion,” Arnett said. “I feel like everybody can agree that this being overturned is like a back step for women’s rights across America.”

With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Shayda Safe, junior in LAS, said she’s also worried about the future of women’s rights in the U.S., especially with the relatively recent passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

“It seems like people are putting less trust in women,” Safe said. “This is just showing, like these government officials not having faith in women for being responsible with the right to abortion, which is unfair because it kind of does feel like an attack on women in a way or just kind of degrading.”

Seecharan agreed, saying she’s worried about the future of gay marriage and access to contraception in the United States. She said it’s scary to think about what else is open to change after the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“Being from Texas, I’m probably going to live there,” she said. “And I have to make lifestyle changes and worry about what kind of effects it’s going to have for me as a young woman.”

Nicole Malloy, a University alum who graduated with her master’s in 2021, said suppressing abortion rights only prevents access to safe ones. She said the overturn of Roe v. Wade is a deadly decision from the Supreme Court.

“Women are going to be dying at an alarming rate because they can’t legally get an abortion,” she said. “They’re going to find a way to do it, and it’s usually going to be an unsafe way, unfortunately. So, a lot of women will probably die from it in the long run”’

 

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