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Illinois protects access to abortion. Locals have mixed reactions to the Roe ruling


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) Life, yes; abortion, no; life, yes; abortion, no.


Today was a day of celebration across the country for anti-abortion rights supporters gathering in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave access to abortion up to states.

AMY GEHRKE: Despite what some might say, today is a day to rejoice. Today, both women and preborn babies will be protected.

KELLY: That's the head of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, Amy Gehrke. Abortion is now banned or will be in many states, but Illinois is among the states that guarantees access. NPR's Cheryl Corley is following this. She's on the line from Chicago. Hey, Cheryl.


KELLY: Hey. So you were at a rally today that was celebrating the decision. Tell me what it was like, what you were hearing.

CORLEY: Well, absolutely, there were people in sort of - in support of the Supreme Court decision; a small group, only about 25 or so, many of them members of a group called the Pro-Life Action League, and they were just thrilled. They said the decision debunked a lot of what they call misinformation from supporters of abortion rights, and it was a decision that protected women and the life of - quoting here - "unborn children." Now Ann Scheidler started the anti-abortion group, the Pro-Life Action League, nearly 50 years ago with her husband.

ANN SCHEIDLER: It's hard to internalize. It's hard to believe this day is here. Even though we had the leak, it's just unbelievable. We anticipated this day would come someday. We knew the country would come to its senses.

CORLEY: Ann Scheidler said she and so many others just never gave up, and they'll continue to fight to make abortion illegal everywhere.

KELLY: Yeah, including states around Illinois - right? - that are going to make it illegal or at least very difficult for people to get abortions going forward? What does that mean for Illinois and abortion providers there? What are they expecting?

CORLEY: Well, you know, many of them say they've been preparing for this for years, for the possibility of this reversal. If you look at Planned Parenthood, for example, it expanded its facility in downtown Chicago. It built a couple of new health centers near state lines in recent years; one near Wisconsin, another near Indiana. The facility near Indiana added more days for surgery, going from one day a week to two. And it and other facilities are going to use telehealth, or video visits, where - and patients can either pick up abortion medication at a health center or have it mailed to an Illinois address. So those are some of the things that are happening.

And groups like the Chicago Abortion Fund are working to help people with barriers that people may face in actually getting to Illinois, especially for patients who may find it difficult financially. They're going to be helping to pay health centers for appointments and arranging travel and helping to take care of other logistics as well as working with similar agencies or funds in other states. They just say Illinois has to be a haven.

KELLY: Among those in the firmly not celebrating today camp, I gather that later today, opponents of today's decision are going to gather at the federal court plaza in Chicago. Are you going to get there? What are you hearing about that one?

CORLEY: Well, they say it's time to protest, to do what they can to help women have access to abortions. They say that they are just really devastated, furious, that they're going to fight for rights of people to continue to have abortions throughout the United States. So that's what I'm expecting.

KELLY: All right. And just quickly, the governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, who has reiterated his state's commitment to abortion rights, what can he actually do to protect it?

CORLEY: Well, the state passed a reproductive health law that kept abortion legal in Illinois. The governor has called for a special session of the general assembly, where he says that they will take further steps. And other states are doing the same. California, Oregon and Washington as well...


CORLEY: ...Say they will be a safe haven, too.

KELLY: NPR's Cheryl Corley, reporting for us in Chicago. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cheryl Corley
Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.