Thousands march for reproductive rights in Chicago
Chicago, IL – Approximately 7000 people rallied in Federal Plaza on the evening of Friday, June 24, to protest Dobbs v. Jackson, the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The crowd was composed of activists and supporters of diverse genders, nationalities and political tendencies united in their anger at the attack on reproductive rights, most prominently the right to an abortion.
The protest was organized by the Chicago for Abortion Rights coalition and endorsed by over 45 local organizations. It was one of many such protests around the country. “We are the majority,” said the emcee, Chicago for Abortion Rights member Mandy Medley, in reference to the size and diversity of the rally and the movement for reproductive justice. The crowd challenged the legitimacy of the unelected lifetime judges with chants such as “Abort the Supreme Court,” “Not our judges, not our court” and “SCOTUS has got to go.”
The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was preceded by a flood of reactionary decisions in recent months, including the denial of the right of the wrongfully convicted to present evidence of ineffective counsel; the refusal of bond hearings to immigrants detained for six months, and, on the same morning as the Roe v. Wade decision, the court decided that police do not have to inform people of their rights when making arrests.
Supreme Court Judge Samuel Alito said of the disparity between the people's needs and the SCOTUS decision, “The judicial branch derives its legitimacy, not from following public opinion, but from deciding by its best lights.”
In a statement in response to the Roe v. Wade decision, FRSO member Dod McColgan stated, “It is no surprise that the same court today voted to put the lives of women and all those with the capacity to give birth at risk by reversing Roe v. Wade, a protection hard won by people's movements.” Dobbs v. Jackson is a part of the reactionary offensive to erase decades of gains won by the movements for the liberation of women, workers, oppressed nationalities, and LGBTQ people.
The consequences of the denial of reproductive access “fall most heavily on Black, brown, poor, immigrant, working class women in states with conservative legislatures, who can't afford to travel out of state to seek the healthcare they need,” McColgan wrote.
Speakers at the rally stressed the importance of collectively protecting the people targeted by attacks on reproductive rights. Alicia Hurtado, a member of the Chicago Abortion Fund, highlighted the need to donate to abortion funds which secure access to abortions for an increasing number of people each year as more anti-abortion legislation is passed across the country. “In 2018, CAF supported less than 200 callers. We now support that many people in under two weeks.” They added, “We know that this attack on our autonomy will only deepen disparities in access to care. We need to keep expanding legislative support. We need Illinois to join other states in making sure that there’s capacity for the surge of patients that will come to us for care.”
Hurtado and other rally speakers emphasized the need for mass mobilization and organization to defend and expand access to reproductive healthcare. Crystal Gardner, a union organizer and board member of the Justice Renewal Initiative, encouraged solidarity when she said “they are coming for each one of us.” Chicago for Abortion rights held another protest in the rain the next day and vowed to stay in the streets and fight until Dobbs v. Jackson is overturned and abortion access is expanded to all who need it.