Nationwide marches for abortion rights

July 5, 2022

From the July-August 2022 issue of News & Letters


Well over 3,000 women, men and gender diverse people,  overran downtown Federal Plaza on June 24, spilling into the streets, demanding abortion rights and castigating a Supreme Court whose legitimacy is no longer recognized by the citizens it oppresses. While abortion rights are safe in Illinois—for now—that didn’t dampen the tremendous anger at the Court and the Republicans who appointed the deeply misogynist judges who lied their way onto it.

Over 3,000 people,  overran Chicago’s Federal Plaza on June 24, 2022, demanding abortion rights and castigating a Supreme Court whose legitimacy is no longer recognized by the citizens it oppresses. Photo: SB for News & Letters.


What we saw at the rally and march in Chicago, besides many more men, was more anger, boldness and sadness than any other demonstration on abortion in the past 30 years. It was intermittent, switching from one mood to another. The rage was all over people’s faces. At different times there was solemnity and defiance. I saw at least four women crying and there were probably more.

The first speaker was great, a young woman from El Salvador who talked about what she experienced there, showing what our future here will be if we don’t stop the war on women. She talked about the women who have been imprisoned for suspected abortions and said her best friend killed herself at age 15 because she was pregnant.

There was no mistaking that this ruling is about women. It was a feeling, a solidarity when you looked at each other that was different: horror, dread, defeat, love, all mixed in. Maybe because we knew that some of us there had to be pregnant, some with abortions scheduled, and others not knowing they’re pregnant yet, and that if we were in a state with a trigger law, we’d be out of luck, like those sent home that day in other states.

The signs were also much bolder, defiant: “You are not pro-life, you are pro-control!” A sign with a picture of the six anti-abortion judges and the message: “They lied and women and girls will die!” “Abortion bans are rooted in white supremacy!” “We will aid and abet,” and signs that talked about blowing men’s penises off with guns, and a sign that just had the website of an organization that will help get abortion pills to you via mail.


Cindy Plante spoke for many there when she told Block Club Chicago: “This is an untenable situation. We are in a position now to have less rights than our moms in a country that supposedly stands for freedom. For us to be going backwards now when so many others are liberalizing abortion rights, I don’t even quite have the words. We need to make this country ungovernable if this is gonna continue.”

After the rally we took over the streets. When marching, the chants were “Women are not incubators!” “Cops off our bodies, cops off our streets!” “Fuck you SCOTUS!” “Hey hey, ho ho, the patriarchy has got to go!” “We won’t go back!”

There was way less walking on eggshells. People were not pretending this isn’t about women’s lives.



Every day since the Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, thousands have gathered in every city in the San Francisco Bay Area to demonstrate their outrage. In San Francisco alone people gathered in front of the Federal Building as well as City Hall, and also at popular intersections like Powell and Market or the Ferry Building.

In San Francisco on June 24, 2022, thousands gathered in front of the Federal Building as well as City Hall to protest for abortion rights and against the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: Urszula Wislanka for News & Letters.

That people in San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, San Jose, etc., demonstrated was not a surprise. But rallies were also held in other cities: Benicia, Fairfax, Hercules, San Rafael, Napa, Petaluma, and Walnut Creek. Those are not the usual places for demonstrations. On Monday Stanford held a rally for Women’s Health, and more are planned in Santa Rosa and Fremont among others.

Since a draft of the decision was leaked, many were able to participate in rallies before the decision was handed down. According to Planned Parenthood, a million people marched in over 450 events on May 14 across the U.S. to show their anger at the Supreme Court’s impending reversal of Roe v. Wade, which had legalized women’s right to abortion.

We were expressing our shock that several generations’ fight for women’s right to control our own bodies was about to be abolished by a Court that has now lost all legitimacy.


In San Francisco at least 10,000 marched that day in one of several events around the Bay Area. Most of the signs were handmade, expressing individuals’ thoughts: “Mother by choice/mother for choice/if you don’t have a uterus/you don’t get a voice,” “Stop the war on women,” “Forced pregnancy is a human rights violation classified as torture by the UN,” “I’d be dead without healthcare for my miscarriage,” “Abortion saves lives,” “Right to Life is a lie, when you ban abortions women die,” “My freedom begins with my body,” “Vasectomies stop abortions,” “My body > your God,” “Pregnancy begins with a penis. Regulate that!” “If men could get pregnant… abortions would be available at Jiffy Lube,” “I dream one day women will have the same rights as guns.” My favorite was: “You would not try to regulate my vagina if it fired bullets.” There were hundreds more.

Many, many signs had various forms of the sentiment that abortion is healthcare and reproductive rights are human rights.

It was not just women of reproductive age that were there. A feisty queer feminist argued that abortion is a queer issue, too. We have to show solidarity. A man carried a sign, “Women are not our property.” Another carried a coat hanger with a sign: “You cannot prevent all abortions, you can only prevent safe ones.”

While we were buoyed by the presence of so many and the spirit of solidarity, there is a sobering seriousness in this moment. The denial of humanity to women, to minorities, to others’ religions, is a symptom of a world-wide problem. Freedom as the essence of our humanity is implicit in every act of resistance. But letting that idea speak takes hard work, both practical and theoretical.

—Urszula Wislanka

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