Tuesday’s nippy rain and mid-40s temperature weren’t enough to deter of at least 100 protestors from gathering outside the Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago to defend abortion rights. After a late Monday night leak in Politico disclosing the U.S. Supreme Court’s plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights are in jeopardy.


Abortions are still legal in the U.S., as Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion is just that – a draft – and votes can change before the court’s final decision, expected to come in late June.  

But abortion-rights activists are hoping that their rallies will encourage Republican-leaning Supreme Court justices and lawmakers to protect Roe v. Wade, so that abortions remain legal, safe and accessible to people who seek them.

“It brings tears to my eyes how this will affect people who can give birth, especially Black women,” Franchesca Kuhney said as she was leaving the rally. She’s originally from Silver Spring, Md., and currently lives in Wicker Park. She’s also a graduate student at the University of Illinois Chicago. 

“I’m just tired of being ignored and left out of this narrative, and even today, that was evident. There are very few people of color out here today,” she continued. 

Organized by the Chicago chapter of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, a national organization with branches nationwide, the rally served as a place for people to speak out against the court’s plan and as an opportunity to spread awareness about its planned week of action to support abortion rights. It kicked off at State Street and Jackson Boulevard. The group then walked over to the Federal Plaza, where members of the organization and others spoke out against the court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Although small in size, the crowd made their voices heard. They chanted demands such as “abortion on demand without apology” and “we refuse to let the Supreme Court take away the right to abortion.” 

However, there were few Black faces in the small crowd. Kuhney noticed this, but she said the rally speakers did acknowledge how overturning Roe v. Wade would disproportionately impact people of color seeking abortion access and reproductive care.

According to an American Progress news article, Black women and non-Black women of color are more likely to live in states with the most restrictive abortion laws. On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker reiterated that he would protect abortion rights in Illinois as long as he’s governor. 

“No matter what atrocity of an opinion the Supreme Court officially rolls out this summer in regards to Roe versus Wade — abortion will always be safe and legal here in Illinois,” Pritzker wrote in a statement. 

The maternal mortality rate among Black women in the U.S. is also alarming. Analysis from the Centers for Disease Control shows that Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. 

“We have to get out here and advocate that being present kind of forces everyone to look at us and come to terms with how this will disproportionately affect us,” Kuhney said, hoping that more Black Chicagoans will show up to rallies related to abortion rights. 

East Garfield Park native Ryan Watson spoke at the rally. He’s a member of the Chicago chapter of Socialist Alternative, a national organization whose mission is to fight against exploitation and injustice in the workplace, communities and campuses. 

“I see that the rights for working people are tied to women’s rights, and so just as much as I fight for Black liberation, or for me as a working-class person, I’m gonna fight for other people so that we know that our struggles are interlinked,” Watson told The TRiiBE following his speech. 

LaVerne Morris, a legal consultant who resides in the Loop, said she was outraged about the news from the Supreme Court, so she joined the rally. 

“It’s an erosion of rights, women’s rights [and] reproductive rights, and more people need to get involved and send a message that this is not okay,” Morris said. 

There are more abortion rights rallies scheduled for this weekend and rain does not appear to be on the forecast.

Two are scheduled for Saturday, May 7. The first rally begins at 1:00 p.m. at the Federal Plaza, located at 230 S. Dearborn Street. The Chicago branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation is hosting the march and rally. 

The second one begins at 3:00 p.m. Socialist Alternative will host that rally at Logan Square Park near the monument located at 3150 W. Logan Blvd. The organization calls for on-demand abortion access, universal healthcare that includes reproductive and gender-affirming care, free childcare and universal paid parental leave, and more. 

Beginning Sunday, Rise Up 4 Abortion rights will host a national week of action through Saturday, May 14. Click here for more details about demonstrations you can support or join starting Sunday.

is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.