Activists from the Chicago Camp to Expose Crisis Pregnancy Centers held a rally at the James R. Thompson Center on Feb. 10, one day before a series of anti-abortion protests at Planned Parenthood locations across the country.
About 500 people attended the Rally for Reproductive Justice that began at 5 p.m. and featured an open mic. Demonstrators expressed their fears about the new presidential administration and shared their own experiences relating to abortion and reproductive health.
“I got pregnant as an undergrad at a liberal arts college,” said a woman named Julie who shared her story at the rally. “I had no way of taking care of a baby, so I had no choice but to turn to [planned parenthood] and have an abortion. Without that resource, I wouldn’t have had any options.”
President Donald J. Trump’s position on abortion has shifted since the start of his presidential campaign. He once suggested that women who receive abortions should be punished, then clarified his position, and said he would only punish doctors who performed abortions if abortion was to become illegal.
Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, has not ruled on abortion before. While he is known for his respect for precedent, Gorsuch is Christian and wrote in a book that “the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” This has led many anti-abortion activists to hope that he will help overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which affirmed the legal right to abortion.
Vice President Mike Pence has long been outspoken about his opposition to abortion, and was the first vice president to speak at the March for Life event on Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C.
The protesters expressed fear that the new Trump administration would try to restrict access to abortion and contraception.
“So many of our communities are under attack in the Trump era,” according to a statement from organizers on the event’s Facebook page.
“They want to make abortion illegal, but it won’t actually help the problem [of abortion]. It will only lead to women being put in danger or even dying,” said demonstrator Regina Walters.
Walters, 31, said she thinks that conservative politicians let their religion have too much influence in the lives of their constituents.
“I understand that, for them, religion is part of their lives and they use it to make decisions, and freedom of religion is also a huge part of our country, but [abortion] is talked about so intentionally as such a divisive topic,” Walters said. “We need to be able to talk about if abortion is really something the federal government is responsible for.”