Annual anti-abortion rally “dignifies life” – Abortion-rights advocates protest

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By Ariana Puzzo
Medill Reports

Anti-abortion advocates pushed for the overturn of Roe v. Wade during a rally at the Chicago Federal Center Plaza on Sunday to say human life should be protected from conception. Abortion-rights advocates marched in protest across the street to defend the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling.

The event took place a week before the Jan. 22 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The decision held that a woman’s access to abortion relates to the 14th Amendment’s protection of a person’s right to privacy. Speakers and organizations attending the event said life begins at conception.

“The most important right we all have is the right to life,” said Illinois Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski (3rd District) after his speech. “We need to work every day to help women who have unplanned pregnancies. We also need to work to change laws to protect all life.”

The annual event, organized by March for Life Chicago, brought out families, religious leaders, state politicians and advocacy groups. Friends Who March organized the abortion-rights protest and the anti-abortion group weDignify spoke with young advocates.

Dan Lipinski
Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd District) promises anti-abortion supporters that advocates will continue to work, fight and march until “every child is given that chance to live.” (Ariana Puzzo/Medill)

“The moment a being comes into existence, the moment of conception, they’re a human person worthy of dignity,” said Sarah Earley, a weDignify campus mentor. “So, if we’re not willing to protect that from the beginning, then where’s the stance for dignity beyond that?”

Abortion rights advocates marched on the corner, chanting, “Abortion is health care, health care is a right.” The advocates did not only blame Republicans. They also showed their discontent with Democrats over the 1976 Hyde Amendment.

Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, told the protestors that the amendment banned Medicaid abortions funding. The amendment was passed by “an overwhelming Democratic Party Congress” at the time, Thayer said.

“As horrible as the Trumpistas are, and it seems like we can’t get any worse than this, if anything’s going to be better, we got to resist the siren calls that say we’re going to be saved in 2020 by the Democrats.,” Thayer said.

Andy Thayer
Gay Liberation Network Co-Founder Andy Thayer criticizes Democrats when he discusses the 1976 Hyde Amendment. (Ariana Puzzo/Medill)

Friends Who March founder Jax West said she hopes activism and education result from the annual protest.

“I’m not saying you should have an abortion, I’m saying the person who has that decision in their life should make decision for themselves,” West said. “Look for ways to help without complaining or spewing what your beliefs are.”

West’s stance that supporting abortion rights does not mean a person is “pro-abortion” was met with mixed reactions.

“I think something we can agree on both sides is no one wants abortion, no one thinks that it’s a good thing,” Earley said. “I think a misconception is that we’re anti-choice, which is just not the case. We hold the truth that life begins at conception and abortion ends that life.”

Mendota resident Michael Vercimak, 69, said he has been “pro-life” for 40 years, and he uses the term preferred by anti-abortion supporters.

“What does pro-choice mean? The choice to kill your own baby?” Vercimak said. “That’s the choice they want? That’s not a choice, what choice does a child have?”

Photo at top: Anti-abortion supporters gather on Sunday to “dignify life” in Chicago Federal Center Plaza. Ann, 12, attended the event with her father across the street from abortion-rights protestors. (Ariana Puzzo/Medill)