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Chicago activists counter-protest Rally for Life event
by Jess Savage
2023-06-24

This article shared 2533 times since Sat Jun 24, 2023
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Chicago pro-choice activists attended a counter-protest of a pro-life rally marking the one-year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24.

The counter-protest was organized by a coalition of organizations, including Stop Trans Genocide, Chicago For Abortion Rights, and the Gay Liberation Network, along with 16 other co-sponsors. Supporters of abortion-rights, as well as LGBTQ+-rights, gathered on the corner of Dearborn and Jackson, just across the street from the Rally for Life event, organized by the Pro-Life Action League, at Federal Plaza.

Organizers and leaders spoke to the crowd starting at 10 a.m., about an hour before the Rally for Life began.

In an interview before the event, co-organizer Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network said, "What makes our protest unique is that, for the first time, we're truly bringing together all the different forces who are concerned about preserving bodily autonomy; whether it's for reproductive rights, whether it's for trans health care, whether it's for our right to be ourselves at LGBTQ people."

Activist Linda Loew read a statement from Alicia Hurtado, the movement building director of Chicago Abortion Fund. In her statement, Hurtado reflected on the impacts in the year since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Hurtado said, "We have grown to meet this moment. A year out from the Dobbs decision, we have received requests for support from over 10,000 people; people based in over 40 states, people as far away as Texas, or as close as right here in Chicago. And we didn't have to turn away a single person that we reached."

Allison Cowett, an abortion doctor at Family Planning Associates, also discussed her first-hand experience of how the Supreme Court decision has changed the clinic she works in.

Cowett said, "The Illinois response to this crisis has been nothing short of impressive and amazing. Existing clinics here in Illinois have expanded their services to meet the needs of out of state patients."

New clinics opened as well, Cowett noted, adding that, "These successes highlight the strength and power of the coalition of support represented here today that is thriving here in Illinois."

Nancy Long, co-president of Peoria National Organization of Women, along with two other representatives of Peoria NOW, also submitted a statement to be read at the demonstration. They said that, "Our acts of resistance now will determine the fate of our childrens' democracy."

The final speaker was Kristi Keorkunian-Rivers (she/they), a co-founder of Stop Trans Genocide. They described a difficult experience in a clinic, which turned out to be anti-abortion, that tried to scare them out of having an abortion despite their decision to carry their pregnancy to term.

Reflecting on the words of those around them even before their pregnancy, Keorkunian-Rivers said, "When I was young and childfree, they said I would grow up and have my own kids, and I would understand the pro-life movement. But here I am, a mother of two. Unapologetically, at any stage, at any level, in any location, under any circumstance, I support abortion."

Following the speeches, the organizers played music and chanted in opposition to the pro-life rally across the street.

At noon, both groups marched through the streets. Police presence was heavy along the route. The entire march stopped traffic as they went.

Thayer urged members of every marginalized group to prioritize solidarity. He said, "If we're truly about appreciating and celebrating the legacy of Stonewall, we will remember that gay people supported the Black Panthers…That lesbians were a core part of the revitalized women's movement, which won us Roe v. Wade. We did not keep siloed into our separate issues, but we offered solidarity. And solidarity is what we urgently need now, otherwise [the radical right-wing movement] will pick us off, one by one by one."


This article shared 2533 times since Sat Jun 24, 2023
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