Democratic Women of DuPage County host Women's (In)Equality Day event

  • DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Bonnie Wheaton meets with Ken Mejia-Beal, chairman of the Democratic Party of DuPage County and a co-sponsor of this event.

    DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Bonnie Wheaton meets with Ken Mejia-Beal, chairman of the Democratic Party of DuPage County and a co-sponsor of this event. Courtesy of Democratic Women of DuPage County

 
 
Updated 9/7/2022 1:03 PM

Women's Equality Day has a long history in this country. At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) in 1971 and passed in 1973, the United States Congress designated Aug. 26 as "Women's Equality Day."

The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote. Its observance also calls attention to women's continuing efforts toward full equality.

 

The Democratic Women of DuPage County, along with co-sponsors DuPage County NOW, Illinois NOW, the Democratic Party of DuPage County, Illinois Democratic Women and Indivisible Naperville recently held what was known this year as Women's (In)Equality Day.

A screening of the HBO MAX documentary, "The Janes," was shown to an audience of approximately 100 individuals.

Introducing the film and sharing her own personal experiences was DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Bonnie Wheaton. Judge Wheaton, along with other young mothers who all served as volunteers, established the Far West Planned Parenthood Clinic in the late 1960s/early '70s in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wheaton. It was in response to physicians who were denying women contraceptives. For seven years, these young mothers, along with a doctor who worked with them, provided health care services to over 10,000 women. Wheaton became a judge in 1988 and is currently serving on the 18th Judicial Circuit in the Chancery Division.

The recent June 24 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, settled law for nearly 50 years, shocked and saddened most women, making the June 2022 release of the HBO MAX documentary, The Janes, more timely than the producers might have imagined. The film depicts the commitment of twelve or so "overwhelmingly white, middle-class, ordinary women" who came together in the late sixties/early seventies in Chicago to provide counseling and access to safe abortions when this procedure was illegal in almost every state in this nation. They each called herself Jane and they operated clandestinely for nearly five years. Shortly before the Roe v Wade decision was handed down, seven of the Janes were arrested and faced serious prison time if convicted. Thankfully, their cases were dismissed following the 1973 landmark ruling giving women reproductive health care rights.

The words of Bonnie Wheaton and the content of the film both emphasized the collective power of women when they stand together for equality and underscored the importance of the judicial system in these efforts.

Donations were also received for the Midwest Access Coalition, which believes women should have access to safe, free, legal abortions wherever they live and provides assistance with travel, lodging, food and more.

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