DePaul University freshman Sara Awaleh was in her dorm room last week when one of her friends attending school in Birmingham, Ala., texted a group chat, “Hey, check the news.”
Awaleh, 18, remembers the chat with her high school friends from Normal, Ill., rapidly became a whirlwind of anger and worry as they reacted to news that Alabama had signed a law making nearly all abortions felonies.
“I was pissed, to say the least,” Awaleh said. “I’m someone who has a uterus and I’m worried about Roe v. Wade. I don’t want my rights or my autonomy for my body infringed upon.”
So on Monday, Awaleh and her classmates joined hundreds of others at Federal Plaza downtown, where protesters carried pro-abortion rights signs and some dressed up as the women forced to bear children in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian book “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle spoke at the rally, echoing Awaleh’s comments that the future of abortion rights was at stake in the U.S.
The county Democratic Party chair and former Chicago mayoral hopeful said Cook County was “blessed” with a health care system friendly to women’s reproductive health, including abortion access. But nationally, the right to choice was in danger, she said.
“Clearly, the Republicans have decided that this issue is one in which they can ride to success in 2020, and they are going to continue across the country and in their state legislatures to pass statutes that limit or eliminate the possibilities of choice,” Preckwinkle said. “This is not a time in which we can stand on the sidelines.”
The Alabama law, which is accompanied by other recent abortion bans in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia and Missouri, likely will be challenged in the courts and could potentially allow the conservative-leaning Supreme Court to overturn the landmark ruling legalizing abortion in the U.S.
Protesters on Monday also pushed for Springfield to cement Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vow in January to make Illinois “the most progressive state in the nation when it comes to standing up for women’s reproductive rights.”
They shouted their support for the Reproductive Health Act, a bill that would repeal restrictions on late-term abortions and mandate private insurance plans to cover abortions. It is currently sitting in the lower chamber of the statehouse.
The legislative session ends next week.
Some speakers at the rally shared personal stories of how the state’s abortion access laws made a difference in their lives.
Emily Lopez traveled from Elgin to take the stage and disclose that in June 2016, her doctor said the baby she had been carrying for 21 weeks had terminal health issues.
“We knew what we needed to do,” she said. “We made the heartbreaking decision to end our pregnancy. This was the hardest decision that we ever had to make, but it was our decision.”
Lopez said not everyone in her family agreed with that choice, but she knew it was the right thing to do. Should she carry her baby to term, the child would have seen “a very short existence filled with hospitals and pain,” she said.
After the rally, the women dressed as handmaids led the group in a march toward the Thompson Center. Phrases such as “We won’t go back” and “I am a product of women’s rights” rang through the crowd as people prepared to march, some snapping photos of the various signs bobbing up and down the street.
One sign declared, “I’m in Menopause. I’m not here for me! I’m Here for my Daughters! Our Daughters!”
Another said, “No more. Support Roe v. Wade.” A drawing of a coat hanger dangled between the two sentences.
News,Region: Chicago,City: Chicago
via News – Chicago Tribune http://bit.ly/2frSP3b
May 20, 2019 at 09:03PM