Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance records, 1977-1995
- TitleIllinois Pro-Choice Alliance records MSIPCA97
- PublisherSpecial Collections
- RepositorySpecial Collections
- Physical Description17.0 Linear feet 33H
- AbstractThe Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance (IPCA) collection reflects the founding, history, activism, membership, and mission of the Alliance from 1979-1991. The material in the collection consists of IPCA pamphlets, flyers, conference packets, correspondence, and meeting minutes. The files chronicle IPCA rallies, celebrations, conferences, and committee and Board meeetings. The collection also contains ephemera generated by the anti-abortion organizations Operation Rescue and The Pro-Life Alliance.
- OriginationIllinois Pro-Choice Alliance.
The Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance (IPCA) was founded on January 29, 1979 to coordinate religious, civic, labor, and women's rights organizations in defense of legal abortion in Illinois. The founding organizations of the IPCA included the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Abortion Rights Action League of Illinois, Illinois Women's Political Caucus, Planned Parenthood Association (Chicago Area), Illinois Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, Illinois Women's Agenda, and the Midwest Women's Center. The Illinois Women's Agenda, a coalition of seventy Illinois women's rights organizations, convened the founding meeting in reaction to legislative efforts to regulate abortion in Illinois. The American Association of University Women (AAUW), Mujeres Latinas En Accion (Latin Women in Action), and the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights also became members of the alliance in 1979.
The IPCA sought: "to eliminate unfocused and duplicate efforts, to activate existing networks, to broaden local grassroots efforts into a coordinated mobilization, to provide technical assistance, to pool resources and constituents, and, in general, to guarantee the existence of a fulltime, continuous effort for reproductive freedom in Illinois." The size and coordination of the IPCA contributed to the power of the pro-choice lobby in the Illinois state legislature. Moreover, membership in the IPCA gave smaller organizations access to a variety of resources including a network of activists, lawyers, clergymen, and media that could be counted on for legal protection and financial support during prolonged political struggles and/or public education campaigns.
The IPCA was formed to mobilize Illinois pro-choice organizations against anti-abortion legislation in Illinois and to "display the diversity and strength of the pro-choice constituency to the state legislature, media and general public." In 1977, the Illinois General Assembly declared that the state would fund abortions only in cases that were "necessary for the preservation of the life of the woman seeking such treatment." In Williams v. Zbaraz (1980) the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Illinois' abortion laws. According to the founders of the IPCA, the restrictive abortion regulations in Illinois represented "an attack on abortion options" that called for a strong reaction from pro-choice and women's rights activists in the state.
In the 1980s the IPCA campaigned against anti-abortion legislation, hospital administrators, and Pro-Life activists that sought to limit and regulate access to safe, legal abortions. In 1980, Cook County Board's Hospital Committee President, George Dunne, directed the board to ban all "elective abortions" at County Hospital. Dunne's directive, in accordance with Illinois law, cut funding for abortions at County Hospital except those performed to save life of the mother. Restoration of abortion services at Cook County Hospital became the IPCA's first major cause and struggle. The first series of the collection traces the IPCA's confrontations with the Cook County Hospital Board and the strategies the IPCA deployed to restore abortion services at the hospital.
In the late 1980s, Operation Rescue (OR), a pro-life group committed to methods of direct action to prevent abortion, attracted the attention of the IPCA. "Rescue" days staged by OR aimed at shutting down clinics and Planned Parenthood Agencies on days when abortions were to be performed. In response, the IPCA and its member organizations enlisted volunteer escorts to protect abortion-seekers and monitored OR rallies to insure that their protest methods remained lawful.
By 1991 the IPCA and IPCA Educational Fund consisted of forty-four diverse member organizations including Chicago Catholic Women, League of Women Voters Illinois, Women's Bar Association, and Operation PUSH. In 1992, Cook County Hospital President, Richard Phelan, restored state-funding for abortion services at the hospital. In 1994, the IPCA Educational Fund conducted Clinic Evaluation Projects to expose "medically dangerous practitioners" and inform the public of safe abortion options.
The Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance (IPCA) collection reflects the founding, history, activism, membership, and mission of the Alliance from 1979-1991. The material in the collection consists of IPCA pamphlets, flyers, conference packets, correspondence, and meeting minutes. The files chronicle IPCA rallies, celebrations, conferences, and committee and Board meeetings. The collection also contains ephemera generated by the anti-abortion organizations Operation Rescue and The Pro-Life Alliance.
The collection is divided into four series based on the organization and activity of the IPCA. The Cook County Board series contains newsclippings, public hearing minutes, press material, and County Board reports pertaining to the ban and subsequent restoration of abortion services at Cook County Hospital in the 1980s. The IPCA Activities series, the largest in the collection, consists of material related to IPCA conferences, protest rallies, opposition to anti-abortion groups, lobbying and fundraising events, and campaigns. This series includes flyers, committee minutes, legislative session records, newsclippings, correspondence, and mailings. The collected papers of Operation Rescue are also included in the series and contain a similar variety of material. The Roe v. Wade Celebration series contains press packets, notes, correspondence, invitations, and advertisements for IPCA's annual celebration of the Roe v. Wade (1973) decision. The final series contains material generated by IPCA member organizations related to their various Pro-Choice events and campaigns. The material consists of news clippings, press packets, articles, booklets, and handbooks. This series reflects the separate activities of autonomous organizations within the IPCA.
IPCA Executive Committee Notes, IPCA Collection. Box 5 Folder 68. 1980 "Proposal for the Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance," IPCA Collection. Box 4 Folder 59. 1979 IPCA List of Member Organizations, IPCA Collection. Box 3 Folder 43. 1991 Richard J. Phelan. "Restoration of Abortion Services at Cook County Hospital," IPCA Collection. Box 2 Folder 27. 1992
Materials in this collection were donated to University of Illinois at Chicago, Main Library, Special Collections, in two accessions in 1997 and 1999. In 2003, the accessions were combined, catalogued, and arranged into series based on the original order of the collection. In 2015, 0.5 linear feet of new material was donated and added to the collection.
Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance records, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago
- NamesIllinois Pro-Choice Alliance. -- Archives
- Chicago Political and Civic Life.
- Midwest Women's History.
- Pro-choice movement.
- Geographic CoverageIllinois.