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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Moms, Dads And Kids Join Family-Focused Pro-Choice Rally In Bronzeville: ‘Abortion Is Health Care, Health Care Is A Right’

The organizer of the Monday march said her sister died from an unsafe abortion, highlighting the need for comprehensive and safe reproductive health care.

Blythe Sirleaf, 8, of Bronzeville, marches with protestors though Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood during the “Families for Abortion Access” march on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago

BRONZEVILLE — Parents, kids, and community members marched through Bronzeville Monday, calling for abortion justice in wake of the Supreme Court decision that ended the constitutional protection of abortions nationwide.  

The “Families for Abortion Access” march, which aimed to spotlight the Black and Brown parents disproportionally affected by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. V. Wade, kicked off Independence Day morning at 38th Street and Rhodes Avenue following a brief rally in a nearby field. 

RELATED: Want To Help People Access Safe Abortion After Roe Reversal? Here’s What You Should — And Should Not — Do, Advocates Say

Parents pushed strollers and entire families hoisted signs as a few hundred marchers looped through neighborhood streets chanting “Abortion is health care, health care is a right” and “All genders, all voices, our bodies, our choices.”

Credit: Lou Foglia/Block Club Chicago
Pro-choice demonstrators march though Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood during the “Families for Abortion Access” march on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago

“As parents we have a unique opportunity to offer more for our babies,” said Megan Jeyifo, executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund.

Though nearly one in four American women will have an abortion by age 45 and the majority of those people are already parents, the subject is rarely discussed openly as a normal part of reproductive health. That must change, Jeyifo said.

“We know the vast majority of people in the country did not want to see Roe overturned. But that majority has been silent for far too long. We must change the narrative unapologetically,” Jeyifo said. 

Speaking to a large crowd before the march, Jeyifo said told parents and children she wished she had heard a simple message when she was younger: that “abortion is ok. Abortion is health care. Abortion is necessary.”

Keewa Nurullah, owner of South Loop children’s store Kido Chicago, organized the march in partnership with the Chicago Abortion Fund. Nurullah designed and sold t-shirts at Monday’s rally and donated all the proceeds to the abortion fund.

Before the march kicked off, Nurullah asked the crowd to pour out a libation to honor her sister, who died from an unsafe abortion. 

“My sister is an example of how important it is for every woman to have access to safe abortions,” Nurullah said.

Kai Lawson, 3, sits atop their father’s shoulders during the “Families for Abortion Access” march in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago

The Supreme Court ended decades of abortion protections in states across the country when it overturned Roe. v. Wade on June 24. Thousands marched through Chicago’s Loop to protest the decision.

But for parents who could not attend the Downtown protest with their kids, Monday’s march offered a family-focused way to make their voices heard. 

Kenwood resident Liv Leader, 42, said she attended the march to advocate for friends and family in states that now have abortion bans.

Kenwood residents Liv Leader, 42, and daughter Leila Bechtel color pro-choice signs before the “Families for Abortion Access” march in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago

Leder felt it was important to bring her 5-year-old-daughter to the march.

“I felt if I could be at an event that was aimed for families and it was on the South Side — I felt like that was something that would be a lot easier for me to explain to my daughter why we are here,” Leader said.

“I want [my daughter] to be able to live the kind of life she wants, ” Leader said. “What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t advocate for her?”

Despite the ruling, local officials have pledged Chicago and Illinois will remain a “haven” where people can access abortions and other forms of reproductive health care. The city has also pledged $500,000 to help people.

The Chicago Abortion Fund is among several organizations in Illinois that helps people from across the country travel to access safe abortion care.

See more photos from Monday’s march here:

Pro-choice demonstrators march though Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood during the “Families for Abortion Access” march on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
Crowds gather for a rally before the “Families for Abortion Access” march in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood Monday, July, 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
Pro-choice demonstrators march though Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood during the “Families for Abortion Access” march on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
An event worker hands out snacks to kids during the “Families for Abortion Access” march on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
Pro-choice demonstrators march though Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood during the “Families for Abortion Access” march on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
Christin Lee laughs with her boys Micah, right, and Elijah, before the “Families for Abortion Access” march in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
Kido Chicago Owner Keewa Nurullah watches Chicago Abortion Fund Executive Director Megan Jeyifo speak to the crowd during a rally before the “Families for Abortion Access” march in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
Crowds gather for a rally before the “Families for Abortion Access” march in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood Monday, July, 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago
Pro-choice demonstrators march though Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood during the “Families for Abortion Access” march on Monday, July 4, 2022. Lou Foglia/ Block Club Chicago

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