An abortion clinic in Illinois is catching the attention of passersby with a billboard that reads, “Welcome to Illinois, where you can get a safe, legal abortion.”
The Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Il., changed the message on their Interstate 55 billboard in late March to put up a fight against the stricter reproductive health regulations of its neighboring state of Missouri, and to offer its residents reassurance that abortions remain available. After being up for just a few weeks, the message is already being received loud and clear.
According to outreach and communications manager, Alison Dreith, the clinic got the idea for the billboard from Progress Now Colorado, which previously put up a similar billboard across from the Utah border. Now, as Missouri faces a legislative session next month where restrictions will likely become harsher, while Illinois faces the opposite likelihood to enact the Reproductive Health Act, the Hope Clinic figured it was the perfect time to make their voice heard and their services known.
“People in St. Louis will always know, because they’re in this major metropolitan area, that there’s some kind of option for them,” Dreith explains to Yahoo Lifestyle. “But especially as we get into rural parts of southern Illinois or southwest Missouri, for example, you don’t always know that organizations or people like us are fighting for you because you’re so far removed and living your day to day life.”
The conversation that the billboard has started, especially through social media, is unlike anything that the clinic has ever seen. And although Dreith says it will be some time until they can gauge exactly how many clients the billboard has brought in, she assures that reducing the stigma around abortion is the most vital result.
“People are reaching out to say that they’ve seen the billboard and they honked at it as they drove by because they were so excited to see such positive messaging that goes to reducing abortion stigma,” she explains, while noting that they have yet to receive negative responses.
Now, the clinic plans to continue coming up with more creative messaging that will catch the attention of more people in need.
“There will be an avenue for access to abortion no matter what happens legislatively, and we just need to be more creative of getting our message out there to let our most vulnerable communities know that they still have choices,” Dreith says. “If we could do anything to reduce that stigma and to let people know that no matter what happens there’s still folks out there who will love and support you to get compassionate care, we want to be a part of that.”
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