Abortion rights activists gathered on Saturday, March 5 to protest the continuing abortion restrictions across the country.
On Thursday, the Idaho senate approved a bill to ban abortion after six weeks, a copycat bill of SB8 in Texas, that now awaits the Idaho house. Friday, Florida passed abortion restrictions similar to Mississippi’s recent 15-week abortion ban.
Linda Loew, lifelong abortion activist and a main organizer for the march, said the decision to host a march on the corner of Halsted St. and Waveland Ave. in the Boystown neighborhood, rather than their usual space downtown at Dearborn Plaza, was intentional.
“The actual people whose lives will be impacted by cascading reproductive care will have an impact on this community, a community that has fought for decades for the right of gay, lesbian and transgender people to control their freedoms,” she said.
The march was hosted by Chicago for Abortion Rights and co-sponsored by many other local organizations, including the Gay Liberation Network. The networks’ founder Andy Thayer was the final speaker at the rally and discussed the relationship between queer rights and abortion rights.
“Roe v. Wade was won by a very different kind of movement than we see today,” he said. “Following the inspiration of Stonewall, LGBTQ people were not concerned about our only own narrow rights.”
Kathryn Maag, 13, and Rowyn Maag, 16, attended the march with their mother. As young people, they described feeling scared with the tightening abortion restrictions around the country.
“It is really disappointing to see what is happening in other states, it needs to be fixed,” Kathryn said. “Banning abortion does not stop abortions.”
Sammy Lines said that she had an abortion in 1969, before Roe v. Wade. She remembers the experience: no anesthetics, laying on the table while a doctor smoked a cigarette in his mouth.
“I just kept focusing on the cigarette dangling from his lip and the ash getting longer and longer and longer, I was afraid it was going to fall into my vagina,” she said.
Not shortly after, Lines saw her abortionist on page three of the newspaper. He had been arrested for murder after a person allegedly bled out during an illegal abortion procedure.
“That could have been me, you know?” she said.
Her illegal abortion led her to a life as an abortion activist and several arrests, but Lines said she would do it all over again if she had to.
“I will put myself in front of fire to keep abortion safe and legal,” she said.
Naazima Williams attended, saying that she wants to see people be able to make the choices they want with their bodies.
“Abortion on demand is very important for me,” she said. “When I was a young girl, my mom did an abortion with a coat hanger and almost killed herself. I recognize the change that needs to be made, we have the right to make our own decisions.”
An abortion rally will be held on Tuesday, March 8 at the intersection of State and Jackson at 3 p.m. near DePaul University in honor of International Women’s Day.