‘Even when your voice shakes, speak the truth’: Abortion-rights demonstrations encompass downtown in wake of SCOTUS draft leak

By Olivia Cohen, Managing Editor

A protester attends the abortion-rights rally dressed in a “Handmaid’s Tale” red robe and bonnet as a symbol of women’s rights. Abra Richardson

Content Warning: The following article discusses the subject of rape; the Chronicle regrets any discomfort this may cause.

Patricia Wallin had always been proud to live in the U.S. after moving from El Salvador, until she heard the news of the Supreme Court’s leaked draft indicating the court might overturn Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Wallin, who has spent the last three years denouncing abortion laws and restrictions, is involved in Chicago’s chapter of RiseUp4Abortion. While speaking in front of a diverse crowd in Millennium Park on Saturday, May 14, Wallin said she was outraged by the news.

“I have always, always, felt so proud about moving here to the U.S., and that this so-called greatest nation recognized that abortion rights are human rights and that access to safe abortion saves lives,” Wallin said. “Now you are telling me that the U.S. wants to go back … I say ‘hell no.’”

A mother takes her child to an abortion-rights protest at Millennium Park on Saturday, May 14. Abra Richardson

Laura Stream, a first-year art media and design major at DePaul University, is involved with RiseUp4Abortion and worked as one of the emcees at Saturday’s rally.

Stream said she has mixed emotions about taking the abortion-rights cause to the streets yet again.

“In some ways, the momentum of the movement has really caught fire, honestly, because of the leaked draft. … People are finally waking up to the realization of what is happening,” Stream said. “I feel like before this draft got leaked, it was really easy for people to ignore the situation at hand and really easy for people to even not see information about it.”

On the other hand, Steam said she feels like she is witnessing the final moments of Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court makes a final decision.

Signs made by RiseUp4Abortion are placed near entrances to Millennium Park free to take for those who join the protest. Abra Richardson

The leak from the Supreme Court was made public by Politico, which first obtained the leaked draft opinion on May 2. Within minutes of publication, an uproar was heard on both sides of the issue, in support — and in opposition — of overturning the landmark court case.

Prior to the weekend rally, an emergency protest was held on May 3, the day after the draft was leaked.

According to prior reporting by the Chronicle, RiseUp4Abortion held a protest held on April 9, where speakers discussed their fears of the Supreme Court — which has a conservative majority — overturning the case.

Wallin, who is a native to Latin America, said she feared that the U.S. may move closer in practice to Latin American countries that criminalize abortion.

“Even if your voice shakes, people, even if your voice shakes, speak the truth,” Wallin told the crowd.

Abortion-rights protesters raise their signs in front of anti-abortion advocates that countered the protest. Abra Richardson

Preceding Wallin and Stream, Dr. Allison Cowitt, medical director for the Family Planning Associates Medical Group, spoke.

“On behalf of the 46,000 people who have abortions in Illinois each year, I thank you for being here and for supporting this basic human right,” Cowitt said. “The anti-abortion movement from the protesters outside our clinic to the partisan conservatives on the Supreme Court could not be more out of touch with our patients’ lives.”

Family Planning Associates Medical Group provides abortion care to clients five days a week.

“Abortion is not a soundbite to stir up the conservative, Republican base,” Cowitt said. “People’s lives are complex and abortion is a lifeline … It saves lives and makes futures possible.”