The first political protest I ‘ve organized happened on January 2017, and that was a very successful one. But back that everybody was freshly angry with Trump, and in three days it grew from four people going to come to seven hundred people who came. But again, it was back then. And a reason for the protest was an elected official who didn’t want to meet with his constituents.
That time was different. Only 15 people had shown up. And a protest itself was different.
Igor forwarded to me this facebook event more than two months ago. The pro-life people were planning a big rally in my hometown. My first reaction was: I can’t stay silent. I thought that if I don’t speak, any woman in Palatine who faces abortion will feel like committing a horrible sin. My second reaction was: that’s my hometown. A small one. Everybody knows everybody. I knew the rally was going to be huge. I felt scared to stand against my neighbors.
And then, this email was sitting in my inbox for quite a while. And after quite a while, I forwarded it to one of the escort leaders. She replied – thank you! We will send somebody. And then again, nothing happened. Then I’ve sent it to the leader of the women section of the local OFA.
Things finally started to get in motion, and I saw that the counter-rally began to appear on the calendars of many progressive groups. At some moment, I was still not sure whether anybody would come. As I’ve said, there were only 15 of us, and when the pro-life people came, they blocked our signs, and we had to move to the opposite side of the intersection. Their rally was massive. We learned later that many of the rally participants came from other places, but it felt like the whole town is against us.
Several times throughout the rally, people from their side would approach us with “whom we can talk to” question. I stepped in to talk to one of their “agitators.” They were ridiculous, starting from “I do not want my daughter to have a choice, I do not want her to think she has a choice” to “the population is decreasing, do you want mankind to become extinct?” When I point out that the Earth population is growing, he was like “not everywhere; it is decreasing in Japan and Russia.” And when I pointed out to the risks of illegal abortions, he was like “yes, illegal abortions happen,” and he would continue! The cars passing by were mostly honking at the Pro-life rally, not in our directions (Although some did).
Now about the good parts. At some point, a couple of teens migrated from the site of the rally in our direction. They’ve stopped by and told us that they always thought of themselves being pro-life, but after what they heard, they are not sure they are pro-life anymore.
Then there were two young women who passed by, and later returned with trays of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate from the nearby Starbucks. This was not only an extremely nice gesture, but it was indeed the right timing – the rally was going way longer than originally advertised.
At the very end, one teen boy from the rally crossed to our side and asked to talk to somebody. I turned to him, He started to say that he does not want us to think bad about the protesters, that he personally is not radical, etc. I explained to him in detail what we are standing for. That nobody thinks that abortion is s good thing. That we want it to be safe, legal, and rare. The abortion ban will not eliminate abortions but increase the number of illegal abortions, and that adoption is not a solution. He stopped me:
– Why is it not? I was always thinking that’s a good choice. Why it’s not so?
– Because sometimes young women what to conceal the fact that they are pregnant. Mostly – to hide it from the family. A lot of 17-18 young women who are having abortions would rather die, than tell their parents…
– Why wouldn’t they? Why are they afraid?
– Because their parents hold beliefs, just like the people in your rally. I volunteer in a shelter for the homeless youth, and we often have young pregnant women who were kicked out of their homes by their parents.
– Oh, I never thought of that…
I’ve assured him that I would also love to see the world without abortions, but this won’t happen just because of the abortion ban.
I am glad we were able to stand for women rights! But to be honest – it was scary, how few of us were there!