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Galesburg rally – ‘We won’t go back’

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Rich Egger

A couple hundred people gathered on the lawn of the Knox County Courthouse to protest the U.S. Supreme Court decision eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.

“I’m not going to let nobody turn me around,” sang Knox County Board member Pam Davidson as the crowd applauded. She said, “That was a Civil Rights song when they marched. (And) women’s rights is civil rights. Human rights is civil rights.”

Davidson said conservatives worked for decades to overturn Roe v. Wade. She said now it’s time to fight back at the ballot box.

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Rich Egger
Pam Davidson addressing the crowd. “They’ve been thinking about this a long time. It was before Trump. It was before Bush. They (were) working on it while we sat and been quiet, enjoying the right because it is a right.”

Rally organizer Karen Kampwirth of Galesburg said if the issue was really about human life, there would be a law requiring people to donate a kidney. She said 12 people die every day due to a lack of kidney donations.

“Why doesn’t the government just have a raffle and randomly choose people who will be forced to give a kidney? We know why they don’t do that -- because that would be a grotesque abuse of human rights,” Kampwirth said.

“Forcing women to give birth against their will is also a grotesque abuse of human rights.”

She called the high court decision an assault on the civil rights of all women.

Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman also urged people to take action to protect human rights.

“Human rights come with a struggle. And we are part of that struggle. Embrace that and reflect on that,” he said.

Schwartzman said Congress, the Supreme Court, state legislatures, and many city councils across the nation are dominated by men.

“Times have to change,” he said, drawing applause from the crowd. “Masculine characteristics are destroying our planet and our personhood.”

Katie New, a sexual assault survivor and human rights activist, cited a recent Pew Research Center poll, which found 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

She said given the finding, it doesn’t make sense that so many states are banning abortion.

“We need our representatives to do their job to represent their constituents, not their personal values,” she said.

Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy Karlin said that criminalizing abortion does not end abortion.

“It forces pregnant people and medical providers to make awful, impossible decisions,” he said.

Karlin said he will continue to uphold the right for people to make decisions about their own reproductive healthcare.

He said will also uphold other rights that appear to be jeopardized by the court decision, such as the right to use contraception and the right for people to marry who they love.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.