Pro-choice supporters rally in Chicago for expanded abortion rights

Hundreds of pro-choice supporters blocked traffic in the Loop during Monday evening's rush hour. They want Illinois legislators to take notice and protect women's reproductive rights.

It's an issue Mayor Lori Lightfoot highlighted during her inauguration speech earlier in the day.

"We must stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless in the face of the hateful legislation designed to control our bodies, our choices,” Lightfoot said.

Several hundred women gathered in Federal Plaza in support of the “Illinois Reproductive Health Act” – which is legislation introduced this year to expand abortion and reproductive access in the state.

"It recognizes reproductive healthcare: birth control, abortion, assisted reproduction, like IVF, maternity care as healthcare and it says that just like any other healthcare, women have a right to make their own decisions,” said Illinois ACLU Executive Director Colleen Connell.

But critics of the legislation, like David Avignone, say it would eliminate the ban on partial birth abortions and allow for substandard abortion facilities.

"It would strip Illinois of all restrictions on abortions, up until the moment of birth for any reason or no reason at all…as this would be the abortion mecca of the Midwest,” Avignone said.

Legislators have less than two weeks before they adjourn and neither the House nor Senate have passed the act.

"We've been fighting this fight for 40 years, my mother fought it for years and years before that, I hope I'm not doing this with my granddaughter,” said Chicago resident Merriam Kalichman.