Reproductive Rights | Bleader | Chicago Reader

Reproductive Rights

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Activists protest pro-life event at Holy Trinity Church

Posted By on 11.06.18 at 11:00 AM

Protesters targeted the closing celebration of the 40 Days of Life campaign - MARISSA DE LA CERDA
  • Marissa De La Cerda
  • Protesters targeted the closing celebration of the 40 Days of Life campaign

Despite the rainy conditions on Sunday night, members of activist groups including Refuse Fascism and Chicago Feminist Action gathered outside Holy Trinity Catholic Church to protest the closing celebration of 40 Days for Life, an annual campaign that mobilizes against reproductive rights for women.

Attendees circled the entrance of the church holding signs and yelling chants, including "Pro-life, your name's a lie, you don't care if women die" and "Abortion is health care. Health care is a right!"

Protester Tina Perona says she saw the event on Facebook and wanted to support the rights of the LGBTQ community. "I'm a queer black woman, and we need reproductive rights more than ever.”

As people entered the church, protesters let their rage be known, with one woman yelling into a bullhorn, "What a woman does with her body is none of their goddamn business."

Others then passed around the bullhorn and discussed issues being attacked by the Trump administration and the 40 Days of Life supporters, such as abortion rights, and the oppression of communities of color and trans and gender-nonconforming people.

"There is unity between the white supremacy and the patriarchy that we are seeing forced upon us," said a member of Refuse Fascism. "That's why Refuse Fascism is saying this regime between Trump and them has to go."

Activist Marge Parsons said more protests are planned for after the midterm elections. "We're calling on people to come out on Wednesday and Saturday after the midterms—whether you voted or not, and regardless of who wins—to hit the streets," she says. "There needs to be a sustained and determined movement in the streets to drive these fascists out."

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Scouting Chicago abortion services in 1971

Posted By on 03.06.18 at 09:00 AM


Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

In the Reader's earliest days, abortion was still illegal in most states, including Illinois. But there were plenty of services in Chicago that promised, for $100, that they could set you up with a provider in New York, where abortion was already legal. They advertised in campus newspapers around the city. But how reliable were they? In what was possibly the Reader's first investigation, in the December 10, 1971, issue, managing editor Nancy Banks decided to find out.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Jane: Abortion and the Underground relives the bad old days of covert abortions

Posted By on 07.21.17 at 12:30 PM

  • courtesy Women Make Movies

Back in 1992, just after she'd published her first book, Feminist Fatale, and became the de facto spokeswoman for Gen X feminists, Paula Kamen appeared on a panel about feminism past and present. One of the other panelists mentioned Jane, the Chicago abortion collective that ran from 1969 until the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

"I didn't believe it was real," Kamen says now.

And even now it seems sort of fantastical: a group of young Chicago women, a mix of activists and housewives, who worked together to arrange illegal abortions for women in apartments in and around the city, eventually performing the procedures themselves after their doctor bailed on them. As far as anyone knows, they never lost a patient. Clients found them by calling a number and asking for Jane.

But it was real, the only such service in the U.S., and Kamen set about tracking down former Jane members and clients to find out more. The result was a play, Jane: Abortion and the Underground, which will be revived at a staged reading on Monday evening followed by a panel discussion. Proceeds will benefit the Chicago Abortion Fund.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It’s World Population Day, so grab some condoms

Posted By on 07.11.17 at 12:30 PM

Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species condoms - DEANNA ISAACS
  • Deanna Isaacs
  • Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species condoms

Today, July 11, is World Population Day—an opportune time to guess how many human beings are currently puttering around planet earth.

If 7.5 billion is the number that comes to mind, well, bingo.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Planned Parenthood of Illinois bake sale sold out online before sales were even scheduled to begin

Posted By on 02.14.17 at 11:23 AM

Cookies for the Planned Parenthood bake sale - BLUEBERRYFILES/FLICKR
  • blueberryfiles/FlickR
  • Cookies for the Planned Parenthood bake sale

The Planned Parenthood of Illinois bake sale was supposed to start selling cookies Monday. But by late last week, the bake sale had already made more than $37,000 and sold out of cookie boxes, days before the sale was officially supposed to start.

"Being in the restaurant business, we don't have a lot of time," says Justin Behlke, a chef at Elizabeth and Kitsune and the bake sale's organizer. "But when we pool our resources we can use our work to benefit our community."

Behlke initially contacted friends and colleagues in the local restaurant industry, asking them if they'd be interested in participating in a bake sale like the ones that have proven successful in Portland and Madison, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Bad Hunter, Bang Bang Pie Shop, Cellar Door Provisions, Elizabeth, Elske, Floriole, Giant, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Loba Pastry, Local Foods, Lula, Parachute, Pleasant House Bread, and Spinning J will all be donating one cookie to each of the 500 boxes.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Amy Whitaker wants her patients to know that Planned Parenthood is here to stay

Posted By on 02.06.17 at 10:42 AM

Planned Parenthood's Amy Whitaker at the Women's March on Washington, D.C., the day after Donald Trump's Inauguration. - COURTESY OF AMY WHITAKER
  • Courtesy of Amy Whitaker
  • Planned Parenthood's Amy Whitaker at the Women's March on Washington, D.C., the day after Donald Trump's Inauguration.

Many of the political conversations around women's reproductive rights in America revolve around Planned Parenthood, the self-proclaimed largest provider of reproductive health services in the country, with 650 health centers nationally. Defunding Planned Parenthood—i.e. taking away the group's Medicaid reimbursements and Title X funding—has long been a conservative talking point because of the provider's abortion services. But that talking point has morphed into a legitimate threat under the Trump administration, which is giving Congress the go-ahead to dismantle the healthcare system envisioned by the Obama administration.

Amy Whitaker, medical director and vice president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, says that hundreds of patients have signed up to receive long-acting birth control since Republicans took the White House and Congress. She says she's worried about what will happen to these     patients under the new administration, but wants them to know that Planned Parenthood is here to stay, regardless of what actions Congress takes.

Decisions about women's health are so politicized. What made you want to become an OB/GYN and abortion provider?

I first wanted to become an abortion provider because I knew that the number of abortion providers was shrinking. A lot of abortion providers had become abortion providers in the days before Roe v. Wade, when the horrors of illegal abortion were visible everywhere—there were emergency rooms full of women dying and sick from septic abortions [infections that results from using nonsterile techniques]. After Roe v. Wade, those horror stories had stopped happening, and abortion became safe and legal. Emergency rooms stopped being full of women dying of illegal abortions. So there were less people that were willing to become abortion providers. I felt very passionate about being one of the doctors to fill that need and help women obtain safe and legal abortion care.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The fastest vibrators in Chicago race for reproductive rights

Posted By on 02.01.17 at 06:04 PM

Personal PAC's February 16 fund-raiser will feature a vibrator race, with proceeds going to pro-choice causes. - HANS WISCHEWAUTZ; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SUE KWONG
  • hans wischewautz; photo illustration by Sue Kwong
  • Personal PAC's February 16 fund-raiser will feature a vibrator race, with proceeds going to pro-choice causes.

With Donald Trump laying siege to America, Americans are scrambling to find creative ways to resist—in addition to marching in the streets, converging on airports, or thundering in rage till they turn blue in the face.

As such, the reproductive rights activists at Personal PAC have come up with an interesting way to raise money for their cause—a vibrator race.

Think of it as a turtle race—only with vibrators.

Before I dive into the details, let me point out that the stakes in reproductive rights are high.

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