Casten Launches ‘Founding Mothers’ Program to Highlight Reproductive Freedom Efforts in IL-06

September 18, 2020
Press Release
Group of women in the 1970’s opened DuPage County’s first women’s health clinic in Wheaton, IL

Downers Grove, IL – U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) released the following video to highlight DuPage County’s “Founding Mothers,” a group of women who have been fighting for reproductive freedom since the early ‘70s, when they opened DuPage County’s first women’s health clinic in the basement of a church in Wheaton, Illinois. The purpose of the discussion was to shed a light on the obstacles women have historically faced when seeking reproductive care or family planning services, and to celebrate the courage of this group of women who stepped up to force change. The “Founding Mothers” program video is the first of the “Illinois 6th’s Hidden HERstory” project.

The clinic served as a way for women to obtain health care services, including general wellness, contraception and abortion referral. During the early years, Roe V. Wade was not law therefore women were unable to obtain safe, legal or affordable abortions in most parts of the U.S.

Casten said, “For decades, women have had to fight for the right to make choices for their own bodies. In the face of these obstacles, in the early 70s here in DuPage County, the “Founding Mothers” took it upon themselves to create, fund, and staff a women’s health care clinic in the basement of a church in Wheaton, where any woman could obtain comprehensive health care services--from pap smears and contraception to abortion referral without regard to her marital status or ability to pay.

“These Founding Mothers served countless women and have each continued to advocate for women’s health care for over 50 years. These women are heroes, and I’m honored to share their story to inspire generations to stand up and fight for women’s reproductive freedom.”

The group of women includes Barbara Norem, Bonnie Wheaton, Tamara Crail-Walters, Abby Pariser, Chilton Knudsen, and Gretta Tameling. Michael Glass, the son of Lucia Glass also participated.

Founding Mothers

To Watch Casten’s Discussion with the ‘Founding Mothers’ Click the Image Above or Click Here

Casten, who represents the 6th District of Illinois, once held by Henry Hyde, is a fierce advocate for women’s reproductive rights.  Casten cosponsored the EACH Women Act, legislation that reverses the Hyde Amendment and mandates that public health insurers cover abortions. It also prevents state and local governments from preventing private insurers from covering abortions.

Casten also cosponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation that would protect a woman's right to safe and legal abortion by stopping restrictive regulations and laws.