Recent abortion restrictions in several states have sparked protests in cities across the country, driving people to voice dissent against these bills and the policymakers involved. One of these protests, the Chicago Rally for Reproductive Justice, took place on Thursday at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago.
Hundreds of people took to the plaza, some alone, some with friends or family, all gathered to express their support for reproductive rights. Many at the rally brought signs sporting phrases like “Reproductive Rights are Human Rights” and “Keep Abortion Safe and Legal.”
Some held wire coat hangers; others had nothing with them, but they cheered and applauded in support of the cause. Among the crowd were mothers with their children, old couples and high school students demonstrating their frustration with the direction of some states’ abortion legislation.
Separated from the rally by a barrier of Chicago police stood the Crusaders for Life, a youth pro-life group. These counter protesters were fighting back against the rally with insistent chants, their own signs reading “Stop Abortion Now” and “Life is Beautiful” and a drumline playing almost constantly, often making it difficult for the edges of the main crowd to hear the rally speakers.
Some counter protestors took advantage of this and started to heckle those on the outer edges. About 45 minutes into the protest, a man approached the outside edge near a group of Northwestern students and began to shout aggressive phrases toward the crowd. While some of these phrases were related to abortion, others were unrelated sentiments about the Democratic party as a whole.
School of Communications freshman Sofia Rubin, who was not far in front of the man, said, “I’m glad that no one really paid him any attention. He just wanted to get a rise out of us.”
Toward the end of the rally, the drumline let up to kneel on the ground in silence while the counter protests held up a photo of an aborted fetus. This silence allowed the full crowd attending the rally to hear the final speakers, join together in a rendition of “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore (a song featured in Hulu’s adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and finish with an impromptu acapella verse, pulling all the protesters into one cohesive voice.