Lake County Democrats vow to protect abortion rights
Vowing to fight against a possible future of back-alley abortions, criminal investigations into miscarriages and stripping women of critical health care decisions, Lake County Democrats held a rally in Vernon Township Tuesday to mobilize abortion rights supporters in the face of what appears to be a coming Supreme Court decision to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Party leaders and officials from all ranks of government, including the county board, Vernon Township, the state legislature and Congress, vowed to protect reproductive rights. They also warned of the consequences of removing federal protection of those rights.
Lauren Beth Gash, chair of the Lake County Democrats, told the gathering of about 100 that there is no guarantee Illinois will protect those rights in the future, since elections can change the political landscape.
"The Illinois Supreme Court currently has a narrow pro-choice majority. But there are two races for Supreme Court that are coming up this year that could swing it in either direction," she reminded the crowd.
At one point, Gash called attention to a sign carried by audience member Elissa Swidler of Buffalo Grove. It showed a coat hanger accompanied by the words, "Never again!"
"That is a pre-1973 abortion implement. We don't want that. We're not going back," Gash said.
State Rep. Daniel Didech painted a grim picture of a post-Roe V. Wade future.
"In states that outlaw abortion, it means that we will see criminal investigations of miscarriages," he said. "It means that women with nonviable pregnancies and ectopic pregnancies will be forced to risk their lives to carry those pregnancies to term. It means the criminalization of doctors and nurses who provide critical OB-GYN services. It means that in states that go backwards on reproductive rights, rapists will have more rights than women."
"We have to do even more to make Illinois a safe haven for access to reproductive health care," including for its neighbors in Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, he added.
Several speakers vowed to offer proposals.
Lake County Board member Marah Altenberg said she will be calling for a board resolution to retain all the reproductive care the county health department offers.
Another Lake County Board member, Julie Simpson, said she will recommend a proclamation declaring Lake County a sanctuary county.
A number of speakers shared personal stories as they commented on Supreme Court Justice's Samuel Alito's draft of the majority opinion leaked Monday night, including Lake County Board member Carissa Casbon, who said she is a sexual assault survivor.
"I always knew that my body wasn't my own. It belonged to anyone who wanted badly enough to pin me down. What I never thought I'd have to live with in my lifetime is the government pinning us down."
Vernon Township Supervisor Jonathan Altenberg suggested other rights could be in danger, asking if LGBTQ+ rights could be "next on the docket."
He also asked, "Will these extremists go further and limit access to contraception? Will they actually start to see the creation of 'The Handmaid's Tale' here in the United States?"
"Last night was a dark night," U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider said. "The pain that will follow the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe V. Wade will be very real. It will affect women old and young. It will affect our families, their spouses, their siblings, and in many cases their children. We appreciate that. We know that. And that is why we will stay strong."