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League of Women Voters highlights importance of health care rights

This story was originally published by WIFR.

It’s been seven months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, escalating debate over reproductive rights.

Women’s reproductive rights has been a back-and-forth conversation for decades, but some groups want to make sure the conversation keeps moving forward and that women are listening.

A panel of health experts spoke to Freeport residents in an event sponsored by the League of Women Voters. They say the goal Tuesday night was to educate people, especially women, on their bodies and the rights they have to protect them.

“We have a lack of comprehensive sex-ed in general in the U.S. that leads to a lot of gaps in some people’s knowledge,” said Dr. Michelle Sandoff, an associate professor at Rockford University.

Sandoff shares a messaged of reproductive justice, specifically how women can advocate for themselves.

“Abortion and contraception is deeply rooted in the American tradition and having that understanding helps contextualize and understand why there are so many issues with where we are right now,” said Sandoff.

Experts say 1-in-3 women has had an abortion at some point in their life.

“If you don’t know someone who has told you they’ve had an abortion it’s because they don’t feel that you’re someone safe to share this information with,” she said.

Sandoff says a support system is so important when it comes to making reproductive decisions to better understand the complexities of abortion. While others disagree, saying you actually need a support system to choose life over death.

“The heartbeat usually comes around 20 to 25 days, so almost all abortions, all surgical abortions are the ending of the life of a child with a beating heart. When a woman is pregnant, there’s a living human being inside of her whose body is separate than hers,” said Kevin Rilott who is the president at Rockford Family Initiative.

Both Sandoff and Rilott say don’t listen to the first person you talk to. Do your own research before choosing which side you fall on and take your time to understand women’s reproductive rights as a whole.

According to the CDC more than 600,000 women nationwide received abortions in 2020.