With abortion rights at risk as the Supreme Court weighs a new Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, about 100 pro-choice and activists gathered in the Loop Wednesday evening to advocate for reproductive rights.
The group called on the Supreme Court to strike down Mississippi’s law, which many called a “direct threat” to the Roe v. Wade decision that has protected abortion rights since 1973. The group also decried Texas’ restrictive anti-abortion law passed in September.
Lauren Bianchi, a member of Chicago for Abortion Rights, argued abortion bans are “unconstitutional” and “racist and sexist attacks on poor and working-class people, Black and Brown people and immigrants.”
“Let’s be clear, in 2021 Roe v. Wade is closer to being overturned than at any other point since 1973,” Bianchi told the crowd. “We are holding on by a thread.”
Jennifer Welch said she had never been “so frightened or so furious” in her nearly five years as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois as she was Wednesday watching the arguments being made in front of the Supreme Court. She said if the court upholds the Mississippi law, which would inherently be at odds with what the court has said was the central holding of Roe v. Wade, many states could follow with laws banning abortion.
“This is not a time to be complacent and this is not a time to be quiet. We cannot stand around and hope that the court protects us while abortion hangs by a thread,” Welch said. “We are fighting back with everything that we have and preparing to care for more patients than ever before.”
Jacquelyn Price Ward, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union’s executive board, said laws that make abortions less accessible puts lives at risk, adding that “desperate people do desperate things.”
“We have to beat back this attack on our rights,” Price Ward said. “This is an attack on women’s rights, it’s an attack on human rights. How can someone tell me or pass legislation... that can tell me what I can and cannot do with my body? You’re forcing people to take dangerous measures.”
Chants of “our body, our choice” and “our bodies, our lives, our right to decide” echoed throughout Federal Plaza between speakers. Many attendees held signs and banners, including some that read: “No abortion bans, not now, not ever!”
Ali Cassity, a member of Chicago for Abortion Rights and Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, echoed Thayer’s call to action and encourage the crowd to continue to come out to pro-choice rallies.
“Carry this message across the entire city tell everybody that we are not giving up until every single person in this country has access to a safe and legal abortion, no matter where they are, no matter who they are,” Cassity said.