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McLean County reproductive rights activist stresses need for laws that protect 'bodily autonomy'

With the end of a constitutionally protected right to abortion, advocates will need new arguments to sway state legislatures.

Carolyn Moon is a reproductive rights activist from McLean County and a former Planned Parenthood of Illinois board member.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she didn't feel that Roe was durable, because it didn't ultimately protect a woman's bodily autonomy. What I would really like to see is a change in the way we think of bodily autonomy. Maybe the Equal Rights Amendment, maybe another amendment that really protects a person's right to make their own decisions about their own body period is what's needed," said Moon, adding the high court decision was not unexpected, but was still a blow..

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Carolyn Moon was this year's "Champion of Care" honoree and was recognized by Planned Parenthood of Illinois for decades of volunteerism.

Another pro-choice legal scholar had doubts about the reasoning in Roe. The late federal Judge Abner Mikva of Illinois was a mentor of Supreme Court nominee and now Attorney General Merrick Garland. Mikva once expressed the wistful feeling that without Roe, the nation would have come to the same place as Roe in a little while longer given the trend in social movements and legislatures and that Roe as a lightning rod that had a distorting effect on society.

Moon said she's not sure she agrees with that.

"I think the issue was a lightning rod before. I don't think Roe created the problem. It didn't solve the problem. And Casey did not solve the problem. But overturning Roe is not going to create unity, it is not going to create safety for women's health. It's not going to prevent people from getting abortions. It's going to prevent people from getting safe, legal abortions in many states. And it's going to force other people to travel great distances in order to seek abortions," said Moon.

Women should have the right to decide when they bear children and will continue to have to fight and protect those rights, said Moon, adding the decision is scary for a lot of people.

The elimination of Roe as a precedent also has opened a lot of legal avenues for conservatives to use on other issues, Moon said. The six-judge majority on the Supreme Court opinion claimed to limit the case by saying abortion rights are not the same as contraceptive rights or marriage laws. Moon disagrees.

"There is definitely a lot on the table. I think the ruling that was released says those items are not on the table, but I think that most of us know that is not true," said Moon.

She thinks the decision could be used to kick the marriage equality question back to the states, to affect trans issues, or even limit access to contraception.

Moon said advocates need to argue for laws that protect bodily autonomy going forward.

"From my perspective, I think focusing on our elections, to support and elect pro-choice candidates is more important than ever. Illinois is currently safe and OK. But we're one or two elections away from from changing that. It has become a very emergent issue." she said.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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