By Karys Belger
A group of about 200 people stand with signs in hand and shouting in Federal Plaza. Their roar of “Not my president” is as clear as it was on the night when Donald Trump became president-elect.
Mixed in with the familiar mantras turned protest chants are signs declaring “women’s rights are human rights.” Women scream, “My body my choice!” and men affirm with “Their body, their choice!”
One sign is wielded by Lindsey Webb, a longtime Hillary Clinton supporter. What brings her out to the protest isn’t anger or disappointment that Clinton was not elected, it’s the fear that her health and that of other women will come under threat now that Donald Trump, and Mike Pence, have been elected.
“On election day, I was hoping my vote would dismantle the patriarchy”, she said. “Now, I want my voice to count for thousands of women who are in danger of having their bodies being dictated to by men who don’t know them and don’t care.”
During the election campaign one of Trump’s promises was appointing an anti-abortion judge to the Supreme Court. Trump also promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Although the ACA does not allow for the coverage of abortion, unless in the most extreme cases, it does expand to help cover other aspects of women’s reproductive health.
In the days since since the election, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has reported a 50 percent increase in the requests for contraceptive services. The organization has also received an influx of donations in Mike Pence’s name.
In an interview with WBEZ; the vice president of development for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Katie Theide, said that both are a result of the people’s anxiety about the future of the ACA under President-elect Trump and the Republican-led Congress.
It’s a common fear felt by a number of the pro-abortion activists, who have made their voices heard among the other groups that feel threatened by the election of a candidate they feel won’t represent their interests.
Addison Dick, a Chicago area high school a student, is also upset about the possible abortion legislation trump will pass, “They don’t represent what the people of America really think,” Though only 17 years old, Dick is making his opinion on this and other issues heard by marching with family members like his mother.
Other activists like Jake Hill also feel that protesting is a good way to reaffirm the importance of fair abortion rights for women along with all the other issues.
“I think that no one, especially the government, especially the one percent fat cats that own the money, should be running any legislation that is adverse to those opinions,” he said.
But it is a bigger issue for him. The fact that policies are made by white men ” is a problem”, said Hill
It’s one man in particular, soon-to-be Vice President Mike Pence, and his record of supporting anti-abortion legislation that concerns for Hill and his peers.
Though e lives in Illinois, a state with relatively liberal abortion legislation, Hill fears that laws similar to the ones passed while Pence was governor of the neighboring state of Indiana, will infringe on the freedoms women have won with regard to abortion since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.
In Indiana, a woman must receive counseling prior to her procedure, including information meant to discourage her from having the abortion altogether. A woman must also receive an ultrasound and have consent if she is a minor. None of these things are required in the state of Illinois. It was Pence who passed some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws while he was governor of Indiana.
According to Hill, these requirements and attidues are just one of the ways conservatives like Pence are trying to keep women from receiving the medical treatment they want and need in order to live healthy lives.
“The rest of the country needs to take Illinois’ example and not Indiana’s example,” he said.
So, too, others like LGBT activist Thyse Springer feel that Trump’s cabinet may pose the greatest threat to women’s reproductive rights. Though none of the publicized cabinet choices have been extremely vocal on the issue of abortion recently, all have noted that they are anti-abortion at some point during their political careers.
“I’m really afraid for everyone who is going to be screwed over by Trump and everyone who he is appointing to cabinet.”