Protesters downtown demand protection of abortion rights

More than a hundred protesters rallied in the Loop on Tuesday as access to abortion is targeted by a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision threatening Roe v. Wade.

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A few dozen activists rallied and marched around Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood Tuesday decrying a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

A few dozen activists rallied and marched around Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood Tuesday decrying a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Karen Sullivan, a former abortion clinic employee who attended an abortion-rights rally in downtown Chicago on Tuesday, remembered a time when women came to Chicago from other states and countries to get an abortion.

“States like Illinois really need to maintain their strong stance in favor of abortion so we can continue to be this beacon,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan was among Chicagoans who joined many across the country in rallying for abortion rights Tuesday after a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision — published by Politico on Monday night — signaled that the high court would soon overturn Roe v. Wade, heavily restricting access to abortion.

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The downtown rally drew more than 100 people from local groups like Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, Socialist Alternative and Chicago for Abortion Rights at Federal Plaza.

Protestors held signs that read “Forced motherhood is female enslavement” and “Abortion on demand and without apology” as speakers addressed the crowd and some passing cars honked in support.

The draft of the Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, calls Roe “egregiously wrong from the start.” Five of the court’s Republican-appointed justices voted in favor of overturning the landmark decision expanding abortion access, while three Democratic-appointed judges dissented, Politico reported. It’s unclear how Chief Justice John Roberts will vote.

The authenticity of the draft was verified by the court Tuesday, and Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak. The final Supreme Court decision is expected within the next couple of months, and it’s possible judges could change their minds before the decision is finalized.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said Illinois will remain a “beacon of hope” if Roe is overturned, but the state’s neighbors — Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri and Michigan — are among 26 states where abortion could likely be banned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights research organization.

The leaked draft has some activists and residents worried about further restrictions, like access to birth control, the right to gay marriage and freedoms for transgender and nonbinary people.

“Living in Illinois is a blessing, but I don’t feel completely safe here. I know that one day I might not be able to leave this state ever,” said Simon Smith, a transgender student at DePaul University.

He said access to abortion is important for everyone, not only cisgender women.

“A lot of people wouldn’t look at me and think I have a uterus, but I do,” he said while addressing the crowd.

Jay Becker, an organizer with refusefascism.org, remembered a time before the Roe decision came down.

“Every woman my age has a story,” she said, recalling a friend who got an illegal abortion in the late 1960s and “barely survived.”

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