Advocates for abortion rights protest in downtown


Jacqueline Cardenas

Abortion rights organizers march down the streets holding a green “We WON’T Go Back!” making their stance against the end of nearly 50 years of abortion rights.

The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade on Friday put an end to federal abortion protections across the country and sparked abortion rights protesters to rally in downtown Federal Plaza over the weekend. The protest was organized by The Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and other local abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. 

Protesters in Chicago began their march from the plaza and soon crowded Dearborn Street. Masses of people continued marching east on Washington and then south on State Street while chanting, and holding up signs that read, “They won’t stop at Roe” and “Forced birth=violence.” 

The decision to overturn Roe will allow each state’s government to determine whether legal abortions services can be provided at clinics. 

“What’s happening today is a very large shock wave that is mostly impacting other states than Illinois,” said J-Saxon Maldonando, a former medical assistant at Planned Parenthood’s Wicker Park location. 

Thirteen states have “trigger” bans, six of which immediately prohibited abortions the day Roe was overturned including— Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. 

In Illinois, abortion protections will continue to remain in place. The state currently has no trigger bans. Lawmakers in 2019 signed the Reproductive Health Act which protects people’s “fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about one’s own reproductive health,” including to continue a “pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion.”

With the fall of Roe, Planned Parenthood estimates that up to 20,000 to 30,000 additional patients could travel to Illinois for abortions over the next year according to NBC.  

Abortion rights organizers lead the march down State Street. (Jacqueline Cardenas)

The Roe overturn raises concerns among experts about the rise in maternal deaths because of the disproportionate access to abortion services for people of color. In 2020, there were 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births according to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study. The rate was higher among Black people with 55.3 deaths, nearly three times the rate for White and Hispanic people. 

“The people who are marginalized, that are young, that have disabilities, that are, you know, for people who won’t have the resources to fly to other states to get the health care that they need,” said Mary Woo, a pro-choice advocate and protester. “This is going to definitely affect those people the most.”

Sade Elicia Washington, a single pregnant mother, watched protesters march by her bus stop and observed a moment of silence.

“I was just thinking the other day about when they first passed the law for women to vote and look at the laws we’re still fighting for now,” Washington said. “As a pregnant woman, a single mom, all ends are kind of tough— financially, physically, mentally.”

Abortion rights supporters gathered for a second day of protests on Saturday. Since the overturn of Roe, abortion rights activists have also protested across the nation, from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. 

The next abortion protest in Chicago has been organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. It will be held Saturday July 2 near Federal Plaza on Dearborn and Adams Street.