Chicago hosts May 14 abortion rights rally; abortion factor in Illinois Supreme Court race

The timing of the bombshell news about reversing abortion rights comes as early voting kicks off in Illinois on May 19.

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A few dozen activists marched around downtown Chicago on Tuesday to oppose a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would end federal protections for abortion.

A few dozen activists marched around downtown Chicago on Tuesday to oppose a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would end federal protections for abortion.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — Days before the first votes are cast in the Illinois primary, a coalition of abortion rights groups are organizing major rallies and marches on May 14 in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and D.C. to protest the Supreme Court’s likely overturning of the 1973 decision giving women the constitutional right to abortion.

The leak in Politico on Monday night of a draft of the pending Supreme Court decision gives Democrats an organizing tool to galvanize the party’s base vote — and adds a new urgency for Illinois Democrats to focus on contests on the Illinois Supreme Court, where they hold a fragile 4-3 majority and at least one Republican is highlighting his anti-abortion backing.

Even though Illinois is a national leader when it comes to abortion rights — the legal landscape in a world where Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 case is overturned, with more power flowing to states – means an Illinois Supreme Court dominated by Republicans could potentially have a vast impact on abortion laws in Illinois.

In Illinois, the primary is on June 28 but voting starts much sooner. The election takes place over days — not a single day.

The timing of the bombshell news about reversing abortion rights comes as early voting kicks off on May 19, which is also the first day an election authority can send out mail ballots.

New developments:

MAY 14 MARCH:The march route and rally location are not set yet for Chicago, one of the four “anchor” cities the march organizers — a coalition of Democratic allied progressive groups, UltraViolet, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, MoveOn and the Women’s March — said will host the major May 14 events. Other parts of the Democratic base — such as labor unions — are also expected to participate.

“I don’t have to tell anybody this but Monday night was a gut punch,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in a conference call with reporters.

“May 14, nationwide, we are going to be expressing our outrage. We are not stopping. We are not afraid. We have more resolve than we ever had before.”

Robinson added, “in New York, in D.C., in Chicago and L.A., these are going to be places where we have the peak of turnout. We are expecting hundreds of thousands of folks in these anchor cities.” There are “hundreds” of smaller protests also being planned.

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT AND ABORTION: At present, Democrats hold the seven-member state Supreme Court by a 4-3 majority. Before Monday, abortion did not loom as a significant factor.

Now it does.

In 2020 Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, a Democrat, lost his bid to retain his seat on the court, the target of GOP-allied political action committee, the Citizens for Judicial Fairness. Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin donated more than $2 million to this group in 2020.

Citizens for Judicial Fairness is gearing up for the 2022 Supreme Court election contests. Griffin — who as of Thursday had donated $45 million to Republican governor candidate Richard Irvin, who calls himself “pro-life” — on April 14 contributed $6.24 million to Citizens for Judicial Fairness.

Griffin told the Sun-Times in a statement emailed by his spokesperson, “People in Illinois deserve fair and objective judges rather than the handpicked candidates of Mike Madigan. While Governor Pritzker is content to support the Madigan machine and trying to stop people from engaging in these elections, I believe in free speech and the fundamental importance of citizen engagement in our political system.”

Madigan, now facing a criminal indictment, has been sidelined for some time, forced to step down last year as House speaker and Democratic Party of Illinois chair.

One candidate is touting his anti-abortion credentials. Judge John Noverini is running in the second judicial district, and he features on his website a video testimonial from an anti-abortion advocate, Vivian Maly, who praised Noverini because he “believes in the sanctity of human life.”

On his Facebook page, Noverini, posted what he called a “*Pro-life Endorsement*” from Paul Caprio, a long time anti-abortion leader in Illinois.

Elections matter.

ILLINOIS ABORTION RIGHTS PAC: Terry Cosgrove, the president and CEO of Personal PAC, one of the leading abortion rights political groups in Illinois, said if Republicans pick up two seats on the Illinois Supreme Court, “We will have (an Illinois) Supreme Court that nears Trump’s Supreme Court, and everything we have fought for in Illinois will very conceivably be erased.”

AMA ON “CRIMINALIZING CARE”: The Chicago-based American Medical Association said in a statement, if the draft became final, the “opinion would lead to government interference in the patient-physician relationship, dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine, and potentially criminalizing care.”

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