On the steps of the Lincoln statue on the Second Street side of the Illinois Capitol building, Traci Davis admitted Sunday's Pro Choice with Heart rally was the first time she publicly protested.
"This is the time," said Davis, who is from Peoria and is in her 50s. "We have to be here. We have to fight. We have to let people know.
"This is the one that's worth it. Everything I can do to support the protection of Roe v. Wade (to keep abortion legal), I'm going. Every spare moment, any money that I can spare. This is the one. This is the battle."
About 80 to 100 people turned out for the rally, spurred by Associate Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion in Mississippi's challenge to Roe v. Wade. The draft opinion was leaked to Politico.
Pro Choice with Heart was staging rallies Sunday in state capitals across the country. Most people who turned out in Springfield had seen the group's Facebook posts.
A media representative with the group didn't immediately respond to a message from The State Journal-Register.
Protests, part of the national “Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action” organized by Planned Parenthood and other groups that support abortion rights, took place in cities like Chicago on Saturday.
Holding a sign reading "We are the granddaughters of the witches you couldn't burn," Sarah Winders of Springfield said she came out to protect women's "constitutional rights to safe and legal abortions."
"This is a war against women," Winders added. "This is about controlling women's bodies and we have been through things like this before. Progress always moves forward, and we refuse to go back."
Winders said she was grateful that Illinois passed the Reproductive Health Act in 2019 designed as a protection against a potential overturn of Roe. The bills codified abortion rights into law, making abortion a "fundamental right" of people in Illinois.
Winders said she has added her name to several lists to house people who want to have a safe and legal abortion.
"This is important. Even if this doesn't affect you, you need to be out here because they could come after your rights next," Winders said.
There were no apparent counter protesters at Sunday's rally.
Annette McDermott of Springfield Right to Life said anti-abortion supporters have continued to gather on the sidewalks outside of Springfield's Planned Parenthood facility, though their numbers haven't swelled since the leak came out.
McDermott said her group is "definitely seeing more (women) coming to Illinois from across state lines."
McDermott said any ruling "really addresses restrictions on abortions in different states. It's not eliminating it completely and people are freaking out all over. I don't think that's going to happen, though I would like to see it."
McDermott is a sidewalk advocate who tries to engage women in a discussion regarding other options besides abortion. Springfield Right to Life's "Two Hearts" program offers women free sonograms.
"Most of the time when people actually see it, that's when it's a hard call for them," McDermott said.
Teresa Davidson of Springfield, protesting with her husband, Tyler Davidson, said she was glad that Illinois is considered "a haven state," but thinks women's rights should be federally protected when it comes to the issue.
About 75 to 100 people have gathered on the steps of the Lincoln statue at the Illinois Capitol Building in Springfield for a Pro Choice with Heart rally. Similar rallies are taking place at state capitals is around the nation. #SJRbreaking pic.twitter.com/3iTjG3YaOU
— Steven Spearie (@StevenSpearie) May 15, 2022
"I don't want to see all of the work that men and women have done over the past 50 years thrown away because everybody is quiet and lets it go," Teresa Davidson said. "(Abortion) is a personal decision and the government should not be telling women what to do with their bodies.
"Our constitutional rights should be protected federally. I thought it was protected. I never thought I would have to be here."
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, email@example.com, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: About 100 showed up at an abortion-rights rally at the Illinois Capitol