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Photo Essay: The Chicago Rally for Reproductive Justice

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The Chicago Rally for Reproductive Justice took place on May 23 in Daley Plaza. Reproductive rights activists protested recent restrictive abortion laws passed in several states. The event began with chants from the crowd: “All genders, all voices, our bodies, our choices!”

  • Kelly Hayes, Native American writer and organizer, began the rally by boldly stating, “This is a fight for affordable health care, for all of us. It is a fight for freedom. Safe, legal, and affordable abortion should be be available to all!”
  • Volunteers from the Chicago Pro-Choice Clinic Escort service encouraged protesters to volunteer as escorts. Several community-based organizations hosted the rally and invited protesters to become involved with local groups that have already been fighting for reproductive rights for decades.
  • One of the local organizations present was the Midwest Access Coalition, which provides accommodations and support to those who travel to and from the Midwest to access safe and legal abortion.
  • Jes Skolnik, a writer, editor, and activist, emphasized that “this is also a fight in which sex workers, marginalized by the feminist mainstream and criminalized by our current society, should have a seat at the table. It is a fight for affordable healthcare for all.”
  • Another organization, the Chicago Abortion Fund, emphasized that “Abortion is healthcare.” The CAF provides financial support to people who need assistance pay for an abortion.
  • Meg, a volunteer from Lifted Voices, began the rally by stating, ”It's not just women that get abortions. And though anti-abortion legislation is steeped in misogyny, it doesn't just affect women.”
  • During the rally, metal hangers were handed out to remind the crowd of the often dangerous methods in which pregnant people have had to seek abortions, in the past and today. Towards the end of the event, speakers asked for the hangers to be handed back and put in a pile in front of the stage.
  • In a group effort, hundreds of people passed metal hangers silently. One of the speakers said, “We will not go back.” Abortion is common — it is estimated that nearly 1 in 4 women in America will have an abortion during her lifetime.
  • A live band, the Clamor and Lace Noise Brigade, ended the event and led the way to the Trump Tower on Michigan Avenue.
  • A protester holds up a sign that reads, “Stop the crusade against Roe v. Wade.” Despite the recent push for restrictive legislation in several states, Illinois remains a hub for abortion in the Midwest. Midwest Access Coalition organizer stated boldly, “Safe, legal, informed and affordable healthcare is what we want!”
  • Reproductive rights activist holds up a sign that reads, “You may have trespassed upon my land but never my body!! #ProChoice My body, my rules!!!” Historically, the bodies of marginalized people of color, namely Native Americans, have been targeted and abused in the United States, particularly women. Charon Asetoyer, Comanche, founder and executive director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center states, “We’re the only race in the country that is denied access to abortion merely because of our race.”
  • A reproductive rights activist holds up a sign that reads, “Real men trust women to control their own bodies.” Condoning a concept of “real men” is problematic and risky but this protestor’s sign alludes to something bigger. Though cis women are not the only individuals affected by the recent push to ban abortion, the decision should be the pregnant person’s and no one else’s. Other organizations who were present included Chicago Volunteer Doulas, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, and Lifted Voices.
  • Reproductive rights activists hold up signs that read, “Keep abortion safe and legal” and “Abortion saves lives.” If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in the fight for reproductive justice, check out Kelly Hayes’s Transformative Spaces.

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