Ministry fears Illinois could become an abortion mecca due to Supreme Court ruling

HIGHLAND — Friday’s news that the Supreme Court had ended constitutional abortion protections was bittersweet for Daniel and Angela Michael.

For more than 29 years, the Highland couple’s Small Victories Ministries have worked with women considering abortions – “exposing the evil”, as they describe it. They saw Friday’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion as great news for 26 states.

But not Illinois.

The ruling will not prevent an abortion in Illinois, they said. Instead, they expect the Supreme Court’s decision to make Illinois an “abortion destination safe haven state.”

“There is no abortion ban in Illinois,” they noted. “Illinois will open its borders to those seeking abortions.”

According to the couple, Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights and the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City promote their services in surrounding states, offering to cover travel, accommodation and childcare costs for the brothers and sisters. sisters.

“Unfortunately, for Illinois, the more than 63 million people murdered will only increase,” they said in a released statement. “Likewise, the violence in our country.”

A dozen pro-life protesters gathered outside the Hope Clinic on Friday morning, aware of the court’s decision. But it was difficult to determine if their numbers were higher than any normal day at the frequently picketed clinic.

“This (the decision) is great news,” said a protester who did not wish to be identified.

Protesters using bull horns stood right next to the clinic’s property on Friday, aiming their remarks at second-story windows. Some members of the group shouted and took pictures of the women entering and leaving the clinic.

People wearing vests that read “Sidewalk Advocate” attempted to hand out water and literature to women coming and going from the clinic, being careful not to step on clinic property. Some asked not to be photographed and refused to speak to the media.

The Missouri Legislature passed an abortion ban in 2019 in the event the Roe v. Wade’s 1973 would later be cancelled. Under the 2019 law, if the ruling were overturned, abortions would only be allowed in Missouri to save the life of the mother and would not be allowed in cases of rape or incest. Performing an illegal abortion would be a crime punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison.

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision was announced on Friday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt issued an opinion to the reviewer of Missouri statutes triggering the 2019 law. Missouri Governor Mike Parson has quickly issued its own proclamation, effectively ending abortion in Missouri.

Anticipating the action, in the fall of 2019, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis and Southwestern Missouri area opened an 18,000 square foot clinic in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The site offers surgical and medical abortions, family planning services, annual checkups, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and HIV prevention.

Less than an hour after Friday’s announcement, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said he would convene a special session of the General Assembly to take prompt action “to further entrench our commitment to reproductive health rights and protections”. He noted the General Assembly’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act, the removal of a trigger law that would have banned abortion in Illinois, and the expansion of health care to prevent finances not be a barrier for those receiving reproductive care.

“In Illinois, we have planned for this terrible day, a huge step backwards and a shattering loss of rights,” he said. “In Illinois, we are a state committed to expanding access to reproductive health care, including abortion care, access to contraception, fertility treatment, and gender affirmation care. We have made it clear that we trust people to make the best decisions for themselves regarding their own reproductive health.”

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, which includes Catholic schools and churches in the Riverbend, said the Supreme Court’s decision “lifts a cloud that has hung over our country for nearly a year. half a century”.

“There is no way to undo the tragedy of tens of millions of innocent lives lost or the decades of division sown by the Roe v. Wade decision,” he said. “But, for the sake of future generations, we can now move forward with more honest debate and efforts to advance policies and support programs that protect innocent life and promote stability and security for vulnerable mothers. .

“A lot of work remains to be done on both fronts, and that work will now necessarily have a more local focus, especially in our own home state of Illinois,” Paprocki said. “It is important to note that these efforts must include prayer and concerted efforts to preserve peace in the face of recent violence, intimidation and criminal vandalism against churches and government officials.”

Alton Mayor David Goins, who is also a pastor at Morning Star Missionary Church in Alton, hoped the two sides to the issue would share their views peacefully.

“It’s one of those decisions where not everyone will be happy,” Goins said. “But we just have to respect the decision. Whether you like the decision or not, it’s a decision we have to live with and move on.”

Randy Harris, head of the Madison County Democratic Committee, said the “destructive” decision was about “who has power over you, who has the power to make decisions for you, and who can control your future.”

“None of our rights are secure,” he said. “The court striking down 50 years of constitutionally protected established law should terrify everyone.

“The court is taking the power away from us to control our own bodies, our lives and our personal medical decisions – and giving it to politicians,” he said. “This shameful and disgusting decision is the result of a decades-long battle by fringe right-wing Republican groups to limit the rights we all have, especially women, in this country.

“Not only is this dangerous decision completely unprecedented, it goes against what the vast and clear majority of Americans believe,” he said. “More than two-thirds of Americans say Roe v. Wade should be upheld. A Gallup poll finds that more than 80% of the American public thinks abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances. A Reuters poll found more of Americans prefer the Democratic party’s approach to abortion policy to the Republican approach.”

State Representative Amy Elik, R-Fosterburg, said the Supreme Court’s decision “will save innocent lives.”

“In Illinois, the Democratic majority continues to expand abortion and take away parental rights,” she said. “I will continue my work to protect the life of the unborn child and the rights of parents in the lives of their children.”

State Representative Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, also welcomed the decision.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is a victory for the unborn child,” he said. “I support the decision of our nation’s highest court to let the states decide. I will always fight to protect the rights of the unborn child.”

In Washington, the reaction from Illinois lawmakers has followed party lines.

“The Supreme Court is now saying that a woman’s right to privacy does not extend to the most personal and private choice she will ever face,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL. “The court’s decision to erase the right to abortion will result not only in the denial of essential health services, but also in criminal consequences for women and health care providers in states willing to enact draconian restrictions. .

“I will continue to fight to enshrine in law a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices,” he said. “We cannot let our children inherit a nation less free and more dangerous than the one their parents grew up in.”

US Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-IL, also spoke about future generations.

“I refuse to let my daughters grow up in a world with less rights than me,” she posted on Twitter.

“I am outraged and horrified – this outcome is a nightmare that denies women their right to make their own choices about their health care and their bodies, and it paves the way for a nationwide abortion ban that Republicans are calling for. for decades,” she said. said. “Now is the time for the Senate to codify Roe v. Wade into law so that every American in every state has equal access to necessary basic health care, regardless of skin color, zip code, or income. .”

Conversely, U.S. Representative Mary Miller, R-Oakland, was happy with the decision.

“Rejoice! Our prayers have been answered! she posted on Twitter. “A victory for Life, for unborn babies who are children made in the image of God, and for all women who have been deceived and victimized by the cruel abortion industry.

“We mourn the unborn children who were lost under Roe, and we celebrate those who will now be saved,” she said. “Thank you, President Trump, for creating a tribunal that upholds the most sacred right of all, the right to life! »

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, also praised the court’s decision, saying Illinois’ “extreme abortion agenda” is out of step with local beliefs.

“This is a historic and incredible day for life and unborn children in America, a day that all of us in the pro-life movement have prayed and worked for,” he said. “The Supreme Court was absolutely right to overturn precedents, wrongly made abortion decisions. Nothing in the Constitution confers the right to abortion.”

State Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said the issue is very personal to him and his wife, Tracy.

“That’s why we got involved in politics almost 40 years ago,” Bost said. “I wholeheartedly agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to return the power to the American people to determine for themselves how abortion services are regulated in their state. This is a landmark decision that will help save lives. countless innocent children to be born.”

In a released statement, the Illinois Right to Life organization said it celebrated the end of Roe v. Wade.

“With today’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, states have regained the ability to protect unborn children and their mothers,” the group said.

Scott Cousins, Dylan Suttles, John Badman and Ron DeBrock contributed to this story.

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