‘Do not stay silent,’ Chicago protesters urge as courts weigh access to abortion pill

Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights organized Saturday’s protest following recent conflicting decisions from federal judges surrounding mifepristone, a common abortion pill.

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Anna Johnson, a pro-abortion rights activist who said she believes abortion is healthcare, walks with activists in front of The Bean at Millennium Park in the Loop during a rally organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Anna Johnson, a pro-abortion rights activist who said she believes abortion is health care, walks with activists in front of The Bean at Millennium Park in the Loop during a rally organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Dozens of people marched Saturday afternoon through the Loop and Millennium Park to protest ongoing legal threats to abortion pills.

Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights organized Saturday’s protest following recent conflicting decisions from federal judges surrounding mifepristone, a common abortion pill.

“We are facing the greatest threat to women’s lives and freedoms since last summer when the Supreme Court decided women are second-class citizens,” said Jay Becker, an organizer with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.

A federal judge in Texas on April 7 issued a preliminary ruling that invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s two-decade old approval of mifepristone. An hour later, a judge in Washington state contradicted the decision and instructed the FDA to make no changes.

The issue landed Friday at the U.S. Supreme Court, which temporarily blocked restrictions on the drug pending a decision next week.

Protesters said they were worried the high court could potentially further restrict access to abortion.

“To revoke the approval of mifepristone is a major step toward banning abortion nationwide,” Becker said. “This is all about female enslavement and whether women will be treated as full human beings or not.”

Patricia Wallin, a pro-abortion rights activist, speaks during a rally for abortion rights organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights at Federal Plaza in the Loop.

Patricia Wallin, a pro-abortion rights activist, speaks during a rally for abortion rights organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights at Federal Plaza in the Loop.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Patricia Wallin, another organizer with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, shared how abortion bans in her home country of El Salvador personally impacted her. As a teenager, her friend got pregnant and she took her life, Wallin said.

“Her life would have been saved if she had access to abortion,” Wallin said. “Women in Latin America are uniting to fight together. They are not staying passive and silent, this is a reality they refuse to live in. And women in this country need to do the same and not stay silent.”

After speeches in Federal Plaza, protesters marched through the Loop, handing out stickers and flyers to pedestrians and receiving cheers from bystanders and supportive honks from cars.

“Red state, blue state you can’t hide, the war on abortion is nationwide,” and “fascist judges make me ill, hands off the abortion pill” were among the protesters’ chants.

Allyson Nogaj, a pro-abortion rights activist, speaks in front of Walgreens in the Loop during a rally organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Allyson Nogaj, a pro-abortion rights activist, speaks in front of Walgreens in the Loop during a rally organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

From there, the group made its way through Millennium Park, stopping at the Bean and outside the Art Institute to make speeches.

“We are not fighting for some blue bubble here, we are fighting for women everywhere,” Becker said. “If one of us is not free, then none of us are free.”

Pro-abortion rights activists hold signs during a rally for abortion rights, with The Bean in Millennium Park in the background, April 15, 2023.

Pro-abortion rights activists hold signs during a rally for abortion rights organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights in front of The Bean at Millennium Park in the Loop, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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