‘We will not go back’: Two years after Roe’s fall, abortion rights advocates vow to keep fighting

Illinois’ bulwark of legislative protections for abortion rights didn’t stop a crowd from gathering in Barrington on Monday to mark the second anniversary of Roe v. Wade’s reversal.

“When we fight for women’s lives, when we fight for our rights — we fight for families, we fight for children, (and) we fight for our communities,” said Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, a speaker at the National Women’s Strike 2024 event sponsored by the Barrington Area Democratic Organization.

“We will not go back,” added Barnes, chief operating officer of Wolf Pack Therapy.

Since Roe was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022, 14 states ban abortion. Eleven have restrictions, ranging from six to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

“Illinois has done a really good job of trying to enshrine our rights to choice,” said Barrington resident Lindsay Prigge, who spoke at the rally.

But “who's to stop the same people who are against reproductive choice, who are against IVF, who are against birth control, to ban it on a national level?” asked Prigge, a mother of three and Barrington Area Library trustee.

After the high court’s decision, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has seen a 47% increase in overall abortion care patients — many from out of state.

Planned Parenthood’s Waukegan health center has been a key resource for Wisconsin residents after abortions were banned there in 2022.

“We definitely have seen a huge influx in patients from Wisconsin coming to that clinic,” said Julie Uhal, PPIL safe abortion expansion coordinator.

A Wisconsin court ruling in 2023 restored the procedures, although that’s being challenged.

Overall, “we’ve seen thousands and thousands people traveling to Illinois for care from 40 different states,” each facing unique barriers, Uhal said. Low-income women are disproportionately impacted, as are minorities and people in rural areas.

Abortion care is split 50/50 between people having procedures or taking medication to end pregnancies, Uhal said.

But the Roe decision doesn’t end the quest to prevent abortions, said Eric J. Scheidler, Aurora-based Pro-Life Action League executive director.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade was an essential step in protecting the lives of prenatal children from the violence of abortion — but only a first step,” Schneidler said in a statement. “After two years, it's clear that the patchwork of state abortion limits enacted since Dobbs is not enough.

“We must do more to meet the needs of mothers and families throughout the United States — especially the two-thirds of women who describe their abortions as contrary to their values and preferences, unwanted, or even coerced.”

Planned Parenthood of Illinois was rocked in 2023 when a health clinic in Peoria was firebombed. The facility reopened June 18.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said law enforcement agencies responsible for Waukegan are mindful of what happened in Peoria.

“It’s important that Illinois, and frankly Lake County … continues to be a place where women and their medical providers are able to make the choices that they need to make to respect everyone’s privacy, their bodily autonomy and their safety,” Rinehart said.

“We have this foothold here in Lake County of choice, but we have to make sure that foothold is protected.”

· Daily Herald staff writer Paul Valade contributed to this report.

  A National Women’s Strike 2024 event was held Monday at Citizen’s Park in Barrington. The event marked the two-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade’s reversal. Paul Valade/
  Mental health advocate Chelsea Laliberte Barnes speaks Monday during a National Women’s Strike 2024 event at Citizen’s Park in Barrington. Paul Valade/
  Illinois state Rep. Nabeela Syed, left, and state House candidate Maria Peterson, right, listen to speakers Monday during a National Women’s Strike 2024 event at Citizen’s Park in Barrington. Paul Valade/
Attending a Planned Parenthood opening in Peoria last week were, from left Congressman Eric Sorensen, Health and Human Services Regional Director Michael Cabonargi, Chief Medical Officer of Planed Parenthood Illinois Dr. Amy Whitaker and Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois. The Peoria facility was closed after a firebombing last year. Courtesy of Planned Parenthood of Illinois
Anti-abortion protesters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on June 13, in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court that day unanimously preserved access to a medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the U.S. last year. Associated Press
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