49 years after losing her mother, abortion rally organizer fights for rights

Local News

A Quad Cities Women’s March for abortion justice will be Saturday, Oct. 2 at Schwiebert Riverfront Park, Rock Island.

Six months before abortion was legalized in the U.S., in July 1972, Tracy Jones’s mother in Rock Island died at 33, due to complications in her pregnancy.

She was denied an abortion then, and died from pulmonary congestion, edema and eclampsia in her third trimester.

And Tracy (who was 1 at the time and is now 50) does not want to see abortion rights taken away from any other American women. Jones is organizing a Quad Cities Women’s March Rally on the cause – to take place Saturday, Oct. 2 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Schwiebert Riverfront Park, 101 17th St., Rock Island.

“Now more than ever, we need to come together to protect women’s rights – especially a woman’s right to choose,” she said Wednesday, noting the local march is being held in conjunction with similar rallies in every state, and Washington, D.C.

“We have been watching the attacks on women’s rights across the country and the women of the Quad Cities have a very simple response: Not now, not ever,” Jones said. “We are NOT going back to the days of back alleys.”

Tracy Jones lost her mother when she was just 1 — 49 years ago, after her mother was denied an abortion, before Roe v. Wade went into effect.

The organizing committee of the Quad Cities Women’s March Rally – Rally for Abortion Justice has announced the speaking lineup for this historic event:

• Angie Normoyle, Rock Island County Board Member

• Sangeetha Rayapati, Mayor of Moline

• Bonnie Ballard, President of NAACP Rock Island County

• Lori Lefstein, retired Circuit Court Judge

• Jo Ironshield, Advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

• Karin Elftmann-Moore, former Domestic Abuse Advocate

• Gregg Johnson, Labor and Community leader

Jones got involved two weeks ago after looking online about the event, and seeing who in the QC was organizing. She connected with the local organizer, Rebecca Mickelson, a nurse who feels passionately about the issue but didn’t have experience organizing fundraisers or events like this.

Jones – who works in work at the circuit clerk’s office at Rock Island County Courthouse – is very politically active. Her older brother is Gregg Johnson, who’s been part of AFSCME and has run for political office. On Saturday, he will share their family’s story.

They are having women speak from the NAACP and groups representing domestic abuse and violence, since abortion access “disproportionately targets minorities, inequality,” Jones said.

“When the Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to block Texas’s abortion ban, they effectively took the next step towards overturning Roe v. Wade,” according to the national group organizing Oct. 2 rallies. “Simply put: We are witnessing the most dire threat to abortion access in our lifetime.

“That’s why we’re marching in every single state and in our nation’s capital Washington, D.C. – on October 2 before the Supreme Court reconvenes,” says womensmarch.com. “We need to send an unmistakable message about our fierce opposition to restricting abortion access and overturning Roe v. Wade before it’s too late.

“I’d like the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade,” Jones said Wednesday. “Not let it be chipped away. That’s how change happens, a little bit at a time.”

“I’m sure like a lot of women, I woke up the morning after Donald Trump was elected and wondered, what’s going to happen to the courts? Now we’re finding out.”

This Sept. 3, 2021, photo shows the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court term that begins next week is already full of contentious cases, including fights over abortion and guns. But the justices still have a lot of blank space on their calendar, with four more months of arguments left to fill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

As of Sept. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court (with three Republican appointees named during the Trump term) failed to intervene and block Texas’ six-week abortion ban. As a result, the law went into effect and the vast majority of abortions in Texas are currently prohibited.

Texas has almost seven million women aged 15–49, out of a total of 75 million in the entire country. “That means Roe v. Wade is now effectively meaningless for one in 10 U.S. women of reproductive age,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide.

In May 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed legislation (S.B. 8) to ban abortion at six weeks of gestation, so early in pregnancy that many people may not even know that they are pregnant.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 1 in a case from Mississippi that tests whether all state laws that ban pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has the potential to pose a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade, according to NPR. That’s the 1973 ruling that declared that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the first six months of her pregnancy, when the fetus is incapable of surviving outside the womb.

Mississippi bans most abortions after 15 weeks, significantly before fetal viability, which is typically between 22 and 24 weeks. A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative in the U.S., blocked enforcement of the law, finding it in conflict with Roe v. Wade and subsequent abortion decisions.

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