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Abortion rights advocates protest at Federal Plaza, march downtown following Roe v. Wade decision

Crowd marches downtown in protest after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade
Crowd marches downtown in protest after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade 03:06

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Abortion rights advocates marched through downtown downtown Chicago chanting and holding signs Friday evening, following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Protestors gathered early Friday evening for a rally at Federal Plaza. Gov. JB Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle were among those present.

Afterward, the group marched north on Dearborn Street, east on Washington Street, and south on State Street with police escorts at the front, back, and sides. CBS 2's Kris Habermehl estimated the size of the marching crowd at thousands.

Some participants changed, "I am pro-abortion!" They carried signs with messages such as, "Women's rights are human rights," "If you're against abortion, just don't have one," and, "We are in danger" – among many others.

"I just can't believe that we are going back in time," Ashlee Scodrai told CBS 2's Charlie De Mar. "I myself have had personal issues with abortion and Plan B, and my life would be completely different if I had children."

"I can hardly be happening in our country," said Tami Forsline. "It's not our country anymore."

From federal plaza to the streets, a sea of signs and marchers took over parts of the loop Friday night. 

"It's just a real blow to women and freedom," said Kathy Speers.

Gov. Pritzker said even though abortion remains legal in Illinois, there is still a good reason to protest and march.

"It could easily be taken away. A woman's right to choose can be taken away if the wrong people get elected to public office in our state," Pritzker said as he marched with the crowd, "and we need to build capacity in our state for the many people who will seek to exercise their reproductive rights in Illinois, because in their states, it's illegal now."

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The pro-abortion rights rally Friday evening was actually planned weeks ago, after the draft opinion against Roe was leaked at the beginning of May.

Many said the blow was softened by the leaked draft, such that no one was blindsided.

An organizer said she hopes the Supreme Court decision motivates Illinois residents to head to the polls on Tuesday.

Hours earlier -- also at Federal Plaza – the Supreme Court decision Friday was celebrated by anti-abortion advocates.

"We are celebrating this as a pro-life movement," said Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League. "We are celebrating this especially as an activist movement."

"We are absolutely overjoyed," added Amy Gehrke of Illinois Right to Life.

Meanwhile earlier Friday, CBS 2's Marissa Parra spoke with Chicago Abortion Fund Deputy Director Qudsiyyah Shariyf on how the decision will affect them moving forward. 

"We have been preparing for this moment and figuring out how we're going to support the expected 20 to 30,000 people that are gonna travel into Illinois because of the fall of Roe v. Wade," Shairyf said. "And in the states surrounding us, there are much less protection for people getting an abortion and also people providing abortion. We did just celebrate the appeal of parental notification of abortion so young people in the state can access care without parental involvement. but there's still much more to do to make sure and ensure the access in our state is protected and expanded, especially for the folks that are going to need to come to Illinois for care."

She says in the first quarter of this year, 80 percent of the calls received were coming from outside the state of Illinois. 

"We're already seeing people that are needing to leave their homes, leave their zip codes to get care. We've been scaling up, building up our team, and also building and strengtenhing our partnerships with sibling funds, and the national network of abortion funds to make sure people have the info, and access they need," Shariyf said. 

Shariyf says the decision doesn't come as a shock as they've been preparing for this day following the leaked opinion that appeared in a Politico article in May.

"I was initially surprised they added today to make the decision, but we have been preparing for this moment, especially since we knew this was coming, and that's part of why we've been doing all of this work to sure up our infrastructure and make sure people have the access they deserve and need," she said.

Protesters set to gather in Federal Plaza following ruling overturning Roe v. Wade 01:56

Also earlier, one young woman said she was standing up for people who might not have the options she does.

"I don't want to have kids till I'm at least 30, and I don't want to have anyone interfering with my plan that I want; my dreams or my goals for my life, and thankfully, I have a family that would support me having an abortion; that would fund that," said a pro-abortion rights supporter named Emma. "There are more people than not that don't have that, and it just breaks my heart that I can't help more and that there are so many people rooting against people like us." 

The weight of the day was clear on Emma's face. While she disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision, she tried hearing out the other side.

"I really do try and hear out other people's perspectives, but I just couldn't help but get emotional, because it just hurts my heart so much," Emma said.

Rallies planned at Federal Plaza following Roe v. Wade decision 03:39

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday acknowledged the city's long tradition of peaceful protests in this city.  She said she supports active participation in the discussion about the ruling and abortion rights - but of course, the emphasis being on peaceful protest.   

The Supreme Court's decision eliminates the constitutional right to abortion first established in 1973. 

Rallies on behalf of abortion rights are also planned for noon and 5 p.m. Saturday at Federal Plaza.

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