Abortion-rights, anti-abortion protesters clash at rallies in Rockford after Roe V. Wade decision
ROCKFORD — Abortion-rights and anti-abortion advocates clashed Friday outside Rockford's federal courthouse during contentious but largely non-violent demonstrations.
About 100 abortion rights demonstrators were there about 3 p.m. to blast the U.S Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe V. Wade, the 1973 case that gave women access to abortions across the United States.
They chanted “We will not go back!” Some people carried signs reading “Keep your laws off my body” and “Keep abortion legal.”
“A lot of anger, a lot of crying, a lot of heartbreak,” is how Women’s March Rockford president Mel Champion described her reaction to Friday’s landmark ruling. “50 years of progress is no longer. It’s a sad day when you wake up and your daughters have less rights than their grandmother had.”
More: Rockford-area lawmakers respond to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade
Then a crowd of about 75 anti-abortion advocates gathered a couple hours later to celebrate what they viewed as a historic and hard-fought victory overturning the right to an abortion in the United States. They rallied, played music and prayed for nearly two hours.
"We are overjoyed," said Danniel Pribble of Rockford Family Initiative. "We are so happy that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe V. Wade, has given the opportunity for so many unborn children to live, and for so many children and so many states where abortion will become illegal."
Pribble vowed that the anti-abortion movement would continue to fight until abortion is illegal everywhere including Illinois which is widely considered a safe haven for abortion.
Police refereed arguments between them and a group of about 20 abortion-rights protesters composed mostly of women and teenage girls.
The situation grew tense at times. Abortion-rights advocates worked to disrupt pro-life speeches and prayers with chants of "no peace" and "my body, my choice."
Anti-abortion advocates unsuccessfully tried to get police to remove abortion-rights advocates from the area. Both sides complained when the other invaded personal spaces with insults, sign waving and arguments.
"It has been 50 long years but finally Roe has been reversed," anti-abortion advocate Chris Iverson told the crowd. "Every human has a right to live, every single one."
Under the Supreme Court ruling, states now have the autonomy to make their own rules on abortion. Many are expected to outlaw the procedure. Illinois is one of a handful of states planning to expand access.
“We are a haven state, and we are going to remain pro-choice no matter what,” said Barb Giolitto, the leader of Winnebago County Citizens for Choice and a former state legislator.
Giolitto urged the pro-choice crowd to back abortion-rights candidates in Tuesday’s Illinois primary election and in the November general election.
“This has never happened in our country before when a Supreme Court has taken away a right that they had given 50 years ago," Giolitto said. "This is totally unconstitutional. It’s wrong and it should be turned around.”
State Sen. Steve Stadelman described Friday’s Supreme Court decision as “a dangerous precedent” and warned those in the crowd of what potentially lies ahead.
“What’s next? A woman’s access to contraceptives, a woman’s access to fertility treatments,” Stadelman said. “ And there will be efforts to criminalize a woman’s private personal difficult decision. Imagine that.”
This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Abortion rights, anti-abortion advocates clash at Rockford court house