Carly Mostar started marching for abortion rights almost 20 years ago and though she said she’ll keep showing up when needed, she finds it hard to believe that giving a woman a choice still needs to be fought for.
Mostar was one of about 1,000 people representing many different communities gathered in Union Park in West Town Saturday morning under the beaming sun to support the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
The Rally for Abortion Justice, part of a nationwide Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action, began at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., about 9:30 a.m.
Chanting: “Abortion is healthcare, abortion is a right,” “My body my choice,” and “Let us choose,” the supporters began walking east on Washington Boulevard about 11:30 a.m. before making their way to the city’s Loop neighborhood, at Wacker Drive and LaSalle Street about an hour later.
Saturday’s outpourings join a wave of pro-abortion rights protests washing over the country currently in light of a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling that previewed the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case for abortion rights.
Mostar marched alongside her husband, Nick Rummler, while holding her 14-month-old son Ellis Mostar Rummler in a front baby carrier. Rummler said he was marching to “support everyone who supports access to abortion.”
“It’s about visibility, and maybe someone learns a little bit more about it,” Rummler said. “I think a lot of people don’t understand it fully or understand what Roe is or understand what’s happening right now. I want people to learn.”
Mostar said she was “really sad” thinking of all the people who have been fighting for abortion rights longer than she has while also looking around at the other children in the crowd struggling with the fact that “we haven’t done this for them yet.”
“I’ve always really cared about abortion rights but especially after having a pregnancy and a kid, it is the hardest thing ever in so many ways, and if it’s forced on people,”Mostar said.
Mostar and her family have lived in the city for about ten years.
“We went through IVF and tried for many years and wanted him so bad, and it was still the hardest thing I’ve ever done and when I think of forcing people to do that, I just get really, really upset.”
The only way to progress, Mostar said, is to “frame the conversation around the right things,” like hearing from people with lived experiences with a pregnancy and abortion and understanding the impact of what the Supreme Court overturn could be.
“I hope people get as scared as I am and do whatever they can from wherever they can,” Mostar said. “I hope it scares people.”
As they marched through the streets, Chicago police officers followed in cars and on foot after diverting traffic from their path. Chicago Fire Department emergency crews also were on hand. Though chaotic, the event was peaceful and police reported no arrests.
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton was in attendance at Union Park and said to the crowd as a Black woman and mother of four daughters, she has spent her life fighting “to have more rights, not fewer.”
“I am devastated by what overturning Roe v. Wade would mean for bodily autonomy and human rights all across this country,” Stratton said. “I am angered by the effort to turn back the clock, treating us like second-class citizens, being told that our bodies are not our own.”
Stratton said Saturday’s rally was not just about abortion justice but also racial and economic justice.
“Because in this country, we should not be criminalizing health care,” she said. “We should be expanding access to health care. And because we all know that if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned, that it’s those from our most marginalized communities that will bear the brunt of this decision.”
As Mostar walked with her son and her husband she felt a glimmer of hope seeing the large number of people showing up to protest in Chicago and thinking about the millions more around the country.
“I mean you come out and you walk with your feet so you can feel not alone and so other people can feel not alone,” she said. “I think there’s been too much complacency, so when I say I hope people get scared, I do also hope they feel hopeful. I think you need a little bit of fear to also think that something’s possible.”