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‘They want us to be quiet': Abortion rights advocates stage silent protest in Bloomington

About 75 abortion rights advocates gathered in downtown Bloomington on Friday, hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

Jill Blair of Bloomington explained why she called it a silent protest.

“This is what the Supreme Court wants. They want women to be quiet. They want us to sit still and let others make decisions for us,” Blair said. “They want to take our voice away. They want to take out rights away.”

Blair said the protest was intended to mourn the loss of body autonomy for many women.

The gathering outside the McLean County Museum of History was far from silent. Many speakers at the event said the court's ruling should be a motivation to vote and get involved.

Women holding sign at protest
Eric Stock
Amanda Breeden of Normal holds a sign during an abortion rights protest outside the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington on Friday.

Bryanna Zimmerman of Bloomington said the court ruling shows a double standard. “Until men can get pregnant, true equality cannot be achieved without abortion rights to women. Men are not held to the same standards as women,” Zimmerman said.

She said it's wrong to force 15- and 16-year-olds to carry a pregnancy to full term when they're not old enough to vote, drink, buy cigarettes or adopt a child.

Amanda Breeden of Normal said she's grateful Illinois plans to keep reproductive rights, but she's worried abortion access will be limited for many others.

“What I worry about is in the surrounding states, Illinoisans are still going to have to organize for people in those areas who are now going to have to drive hours to be able to receive the care that they need here instead of close to home,” she said.

Breeden added she’s concerned abortion access also could become harder in Illinois as clinics struggle to meet demand from neighboring states.

Several who spoke to the crowd at the rally, including Luisa Gomez of Bloomington, said they are concerned the Supreme Court could go after other civil liberties next.

Woman speaking at abortion rights protest
Eric Stock
Luisa Gomez of Bloomington speaks to a crowd during an abortion rights protest outside the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington on Friday.

“If someone doesn’t like it, if people are making decisions for us, that means everything is up for grabs. I’m here today as a woman of color that sits at the intersection of being a Black woman working in a primarily white institution. Roe v. Wade is an attack on everyone,” Gomez said.

Democratic McLean County Board member Beverly Bell of Normal said she now lives in fear following the court’s ruling to restrict abortion.

“If they went after (abortion), then they are going to come after me because I am gay and I am Black and I am a female,” said Bell, telling the gathering she believes the U.S. is headed for a summer of unrest. “This is starting to feel like the summer of ’68,” she said.

Bruce Unterman held a sign that said “abortion is healthcare.” He said the conservative high court seems hostile toward separation of church and state.

“I’m Jewish, I feel I’m more threatened today than I was yesterday,” said Unterman, adding he’s concerned the court will allow prayer in public schools and turn back other rights based on religion.

“Bloomington Country Club had ... a very strict quotas on the number of Jewish people that were allowed," said Unterman, reflecting on his time as a child. "That can all be erased as well as any other."

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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