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Q&A: Sabrina Cavanaugh, founder of McLean County Pro-Choice Warriors

A protest organized by Cavanaugh in downtown Bloomington.
A protest organized by Cavanaugh in downtown Bloomington.

President Biden last week issued an executive order designed to ensure access to abortion medication and emergency contraception in light of the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade. In his remarks, Biden said the court's ruling practically dared women to exercise their political power and restore the right to bodily autonomy.

Sabrina Cavanaugh has accepted that dare. She's the woman who, along with others, helped organize protests in response to the court's decision, including one in downtown Bloomington on July Fourth that drew hundreds of marchers.

Cavanaugh has also founded a Facebook group — McLean County Pro-Choice Warriors — to keep up the momentum. Cavanaugh sat down with WGLT to explain how the group came about.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

WGLT: How did you get involved in organizing protests?

Cavanaugh: When the news came out a couple of weeks ago about the ban, I was obviously very upset and hadn't seen anyone start anything locally. So I just kind of created a protest out of nowhere. And it was actually kind of big. We had over 100 people there. And at that protest, everyone was like, I wish you would form a group here locally of likeminded people. So I made the McLean County Pro-Warriors group on Facebook. And then people asked for another protest, and so I created another one on the 4th of July.

What kind of reaction have you heard from women and others here about the ban?

We've all been really upset and feel like our rights were taken away from us. And even though it doesn't necessarily affect us here in Illinois, I am upset for all women not being able to have the right to their own body and the right to make their own decisions. And I’m definitely scared for the women in other states that it does affect and scared for future generations of women. I have had a lot of people in in my circle, feel the same way and want to do something to help everyone else.

The ban doesn’t affect us in Illinois in that the laws won't change here. But we are poised to become a destination state for people seeking safe, legal abortions. Do you think that we're prepared for that?

From the research I've done and the things that I've heard, they've already just in the past two weeks seen such an influx of calls from people that are out of state who are needing help with those services. And no, I don't think we would be prepared. Just seeing how every border state around Illinois is affected… there's just going to be a lot of people coming to Illinois needing help. I'm definitely scared that we don't even have the resources for them.

What would you like to see from Democratic lawmakers in order to ease this transition into a post-Roe America?

I'm really happy with Biden's executive order. I think it's a step in the right direction to show that we do have Democratic leaders on our side that are concerned about women's rights to their own bodies. I think we need to keep that momentum going and elect more progressive leaders. We need to push people to vote Nov. 8 so that we can get people in office that also feel the passion that we need to help these women. And we need to not be moving backwards in history.

Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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