Citizens form coalition favoring abortion rights

By Galvin Kennedy

A group of DeKalb County residents who favor womens’ rights to abortion have formed the DeKalb County Coalition for Choice in response to a Supreme Court ruling on Webster v. Reproductive Health Services which gave states the power to restrict state-funded abortions.

Shelly Wilson, the coalition’s chairman, said she and a friend “first heard the decision on the morning of the Fourth of July while we were at Hopkins Park. We were both upset, but neither of us knew that the other was.

“Then the Star Spangled Banner started to play and we looked at each other and automatically knew what the other was thinking. All of a sudden, I felt like a second-class citizen.”

If the court had ruled differently, “we probably would have formed at a more casual pace by waiting for the (NIU) students to get back to school,” Wilson said.

The coalition’s objective is to take action to preserve a women’s right to her body and abortion, as well as birth control, which is “also now threatened by attacks from the far right,” she said.

Coalition member Connor Anderson said, “We plan to focus our efforts on two main areas. One is going to be the support for options counseling to pregnant women and the other will be a political end consisting of lobbying down in Springfield, as well as writing congressmen.”

“We are affiliated with the National Abortion Rights Action League, the Illinois Alliance for Choice and we are becoming affiliated with the Ragsdale clinic in Rockford, which is being barraged by a number of anti-choice fanatics,” Wilson said.

Among other groups participating in the coalition’s efforts is NIU’s Students for Choice, which already has a student group status to lend support, Anderson said.

“I’m very pleased with the membership turnout so far, which consists of students and non-students, some of who are NIU faculty and long-term DeKalb residents. It’s interesting to note that the male membership actually outweighs the female membership,” Wilson said.

The group has bi-weekly meetings where they put together the “nuts and bolts,” such as developing a board of directors and seeking a nonprofit status, Anderson said.

“When the (NIU) fall semester begins, we plan on seeking official recognition from NIU,” Wilson said.