Springfield group joins national abortion rallies


Planned Parethood Organizer, Brigid Leahy, leading a ‘Bans off our bodies’ chant

Emily Leers, Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Hundreds gathered outside the Old State Capitol on Saturday (Oct. 2, 2021) for a local event that was part of a nationwide series of rallies in support of abortion and reproductive rights.

The Springfield rally was organized by at least 10 groups, including Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Thousands gathered at sights in all 50 states as an act of unity ahead of the new term for the Supreme Court, which will be the ultimate decisionmaker in issues related to abortion rights in the United States.

The Springfield rally called for the repeal of abortion laws in Texas and Illinois.

The Texas Law, the newest and most restrictive in the country, targets abortion providers after fetal cardiac activity is detected through a sonogram, usually about the sixth week of pregnancy. Illinois is one of 38 states to require parental notice 48 hours before  a minor seeks care related to an abortion.

The notification of a guardian in Illinois can be bypassed by a court order, but Hannah Baity, a University of Illinois Springfield student who spoke at the rally, said seeking a court order to bypass parental notice is “humiliating” and “nothing more than another obstacle.”

Springfield activist and author as well as the executive director of the Garvey Tubman Cultural Arts and Research Center, Shatriya Smith shared a poem with the crowd.

“I was treated with dignity and respect, and talked to like I needed to know what was going on with my body,” Smith said of her experience with Planned Parenthood. ” I appreciated that.”

Smith added about the new Texas law: “It makes me feel like they hate women, especially me.”

After the rally, Smith said she has been working toward becoming the poet laureate of Springfield for a long time, combining her love of poetry and social activism.

“Usually I will write one for the event, but this one came right after the Texas abortion law,” Smith said. “I wanted to share my anxiety, angst or anger in a way that fits and suits my personality”

Patti Pace-Halpin is a volunteer for Planned Parenthood as well as the Illinois Handmaids, who showed up Saturday in red capes and white bonnets. The attire is from the book, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, and the Hulu series of the same name in which women are forced to bear children in a male-dominated society.

“I am angry, upset and mad about what’s happened in Texas and other states,” said Pace-Halpin, who also works with the Resistor Sisterhood, a group of four who joined together to promote social activism. “I wish everyone in every state had the reproductive freedoms and rights we have in Illinois.”

Jordan Reeter, an 18-year-old Millikin University freshman, said: “Abortion laws in general are really harmful to women. They completely ignore any struggles within a pregnant person’s life beyond their pregnancy.”

Reeter was at the rally with her mother and two sisters.

“Not everyone is able to support a child, and these abortion bans force people to take on children they can’t afford or place them in an already overworked and crowded foster system. Everyone deserves a right to healthcare. Abortion is healthcare,” Reeter said.