Northwestern students rally in downtown Chicago for abortion access


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern students joined hundreds in downtown Chicago for a march Saturday.

Avani Kalra, Audience Engagement Editor

Northwestern students and staff joined hundreds of people rallying in downtown Chicago Saturday for the right to an abortion without excessive federal restriction. The rally was part of a network of protests nationwide. 

Demonstrators listened to speakers in Federal Plaza and marched the Chicago Loop to Ida B. Wells Drive. Chicago NOW and other local groups organized the rally after Politico leaked a draft of a Supreme Court opinion poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. 

Weinberg sophomore Andie Tipton, the vice president of NU College Feminists, said she felt hopeful marching and hearing from the rally’s speakers.

“I felt really powerless,” she said. “It feels good to do a positive thing instead of a negative thing. The speeches reminded me it’s not just about a few heroes –– it really is about ordinary people. We can make a difference.” 

Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker both spoke at Federal Plaza. Other speakers included ChicagoNOW President Gina Rozman-Wendle, Chicago Teachers Union member Debby Pope and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Commissioner Chakena Perry.  

Tipton said she also found it reassuring to hear from abortion providers. One of those speakers was Kimberly Smith, a patient care technician at Northwestern Medicine.

In her speech, Smith said that though she was tempted to get emotional, she wanted to focus on conveying the potential impact of overturning Roe. At least 22,000 women die annually while two to seven million women suffer from long-term health issues because of illegal abortion complications, Smith said.

“I should be able to help. I should be able to protect. When I take an oath as a healthcare provider, that’s my obligation,” she said. “If I am in a situation and I need to make a decision, let me make my own choice. It is my right, and it is your obligation to vote to let me have that right.”

McCormick freshman Anushri Radhakrishnan said she attended the rally because the future of abortion access in her home state, Michigan, remains uncertain.

Radhakrishnan said the state has an abortion ban currently superseded by Roe v. Wade. Without federal protection, she said the state will have a “full-on” abortion ban.

“It’s scary to see how quickly that could happen,” Radhakrishnan said. “For me and a lot of my friends and a lot of the people around me, we have to live in uncertainty. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We just don’t know if we’re going to be able to have rights.”  

Pritzker said restricting abortion access does not stop abortions –– just safe ones. 

Pritzker told attendees abortions would remain legal and accessible in Illinois, adding that the state’s borders will stay open for people in states where they may lose abortion access.

“I want to promise you that I’ll fight hard not just for women who call Illinois home, but for every person in every corner of this country whose rights are in danger,” Pritzker said. “Our shores remain open for any person left marooned by these extremist politicians. In Illinois, you are safe, and we must do everything in our power to keep it that way.” 

For Weinberg freshman Likhita Aluru, the diversity of marchers on Saturday was inspiring. 

She said she saw women who had fought for the federally protected right to an abortion in the ʼ60s and ʼ70s, as well as children protesting alongside their parents. 

“It’s kind of sad at one point to see that it’s still a fight,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s kind of inspiring to see how many different people are coming together and how many people care.”

A previous version of this article misattributed a quote to McCormick freshman Anushri Radhakrishnan. That section has since been removed. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @avanidkalra

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