Abortion opponents from across Illinois protest in Springfield



SPRINGFIELD — As abortion opponents nationwide gained ground after the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, those in Illinois watched as Democratic lawmakers sought to make the state a haven for those seeking the procedure. 

Organizers of the state’s March for Life said that’s one reason why abortion opponents from around the state gathered Tuesday in Springfield, rather than Chicago, where past events have been held. They hoped to meet with lawmakers and in particular to lobby against legislation aimed at anti-abortion pregnancy centers. 

A smaller group of abortion rights demonstrators also gathered in front of the Illinois State Capitol building. 

Heather McMeekan, a board member for a Peoria abortion rights group, stands with other protesters on Tuesday in Springfield. 


Among the attendees was former state senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, a fierce opponent of abortion who once said that Holocaust deaths during World War II paled in comparison with lives lost through the procedure. 

“Until Illinois starts honoring and protecting life, we are going to continue to spiral out of control morally, ethically,” Bailey told Lee Enterprises. 

People demonstrating in opposition to abortion stand inside Trinity Lutheran Church in Springfield, watching abortion rights supporters gather across the street. 


This year’s event comes after the Supreme Court ruled in June that ended constitutional protections for abortions, allowing states to ban the procedure. Many had already taken steps to restrict it. 

Illinois had already encountered a growing number of out-of-state residents seeking abortion services, according to data from the state Department of Public Health. The state saw a 28.5% increase in out-of-state residents seeking abortions between 2019 and 2020. Most came from Missouri, followed by Indiana. 

Protesters on either side of the issue of abortion rights face one another in opposing demonstrations Tuesday in front of the Illinois State Capitol. 


The state agency has not released updated abortion data since Roe was overturned. However, abortion providers have reported seeing unprecedented numbers of out-of-state patients. Planned Parenthood of Illinois said in December that nearly a third of its patients were coming from other states. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Democratic lawmakers have enacted a number of measures intended to enshrine abortion rights, including legislation permitting state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions and repeal of the state’s parental notification law. 

“We as a state have made a very solid commitment to ensuring not just that abortion remains legal but that it is accessible to those who need it,” said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, “whether they are residents of Illinois or folks coming in from out of state from states where their rights are being restricted.”

Republican lawmakers such as state Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, speak to anti-abortion demonstrators. 


The anti-abortion coalition included the Illinois Right to Life organization and religiously affiliated groups. The coalition’s events included a mass presided over by Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki at the Sangamon Auditorium on the University of Illinois Springfield campus and an event at a Springfield church, before all gathered in front of the Capitol.  

“It’s just really encouraging to see so many people back up here that are involved in this issue,” said state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Effingham.

The anti-abortion demonstrators expressed opposition to legislation (Senate Bill 1909 and House Bill 2463) that would regulate how pregnancy crisis centers communicate with clients. 

“We need to support the pregnancy resource centers here in Illinois,” said state Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dietrich. “The left want to talk about the right to choose. I think they should support women who actually choose life.”

The measure is intended to block deceptive tactics that could be used to discourage forms of reproductive healthcare, according to Cassidy, one of its sponsors. 

Participants in the rally hold signs in front of the Illinois State Capitol building. 


“They advertise that they are health care facilities when they are more often than not aren’t,” Cassidy said in an interview. “They provide misleading information to try to convince folks who are seeking abortion information to come into their facilities so they can be discouraged from seeking abortion. They use techniques and tactics like lying about the gestational age of the embryo after doing an invasive internal ultrasound without medical training.”

Most abortions performed in Illinois occur before eight weeks gestation and are done using a medication called Mifepristone.

Anti-abortion demonstrators fill Capitol Avenue in Springfield as police patrol the area. 


The legislation would bar pregnancy centers from using deception, fraud or omission of facts and from preventing women from accessing abortion or emergency contraception providers; further, it would allow such pregnancy centers to be sued for damages. 

A Springfield police vehicle parks near abortion rights supporters Tuesday. 


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March 21, 2023 at 07:22PM

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