Pro-choice and pro-life advocates rally in front of Capitol

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — The annual Illinois March for Life, usually held in Chicago, was held in Springfield for the first time on Tuesday. 

Organizers say they wanted the parade in Springfield so they could meet with legislators and show those inside the state capitol how many supporters would come out for a pro-life event. 

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield held a pre-rally mass and started the rally with prayer and an address to participants. He spoke out against legislators who agreed with Governor Pritzker’s reproductive right’s omnibus bill from January. 

“Many others in Illinois state governments have unequivocally expressed their unabashed desire to expand abortion rights and make Illinois an abortion haven,” said Paprocki. “Every year, over 10,000 out-of-state residents now come to Illinois for abortions often at taxpayer expense and that number has been increasing dramatically since June of 2022.” 

Bishop Paprocki was joined by state legislators who shared concerns on Illinois Senate Bill 1909. The group said this bill will force pro-life pregnancy centers to make abortion referrals even though it goes against their goal to prevent abortion. 

“We know their abortion centers give women one basic choice while Pregnancy Care Centers give counseling, medical care, diapers, formula clothing, adoption services, maternal housing, abortion reversal treatments, ultrasound, STI treatment, abortion trauma care for men and women, perinatal grief support and more importantly, the love of Christ free to all without one dollar from taxpayers,” said Dr. William Hauter, an Illinois State Representative from the 87th district. 

A separate group met across the street from the state Capitol in support of abortion access across the state. Advocates said this is a crucial time to speak up about the right to abortion because of the overturn of Roe v. Wade last year. 

We are out here today advocating that people have autonomy over their own bodies, whether that is to have children in a loving and supportive environment, or to not have children,” said Heather Dykes, a Springfield resident. “Sadly, in the last several years, our government has been bending to the will of a very small subset of our population, rather than acting as a true democracy.” 

Dykes told the group that she has concerns for the safety of women who can’t access abortions safely.  She said maternal mortality rates are on the rise in states that have abortion bans. 

Other pro-choice speakers urged attendees to meet with their legislators and ensure they knew the opinions of a majority of their constituents. Springfield Poet Laureate Shatriya Smith performed a spoken word poem on the trauma of women who have to birth children they don’t want. 

I am here to be extremely clear that I will not go down without a fight, because I know from historical truths, once they take away my choice, they take away my rights,” said Smith. “Man is not the one to judge yet we repeatedly let him. I say it’s time to stand up.” 

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March 21, 2023 at 07:24PM

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