My Vote, My Voice, My Right: A March in Downtown Naperville

Countless protestors gathered in downtown Naperville for a pro-choice march.


Photo by Danny Olivares

Noah McBrien, Staff Writer

Gathered at Naperville’s Fredenhagen Park, a group of organizers talked amongst themselves and got ready for a march. The march would begin in less than an hour and go through downtown Naperville. The organizers, alongside countless protestors, demanded a solution to what they viewed as a nation-wide problem.

Katie Tyler, a poli-sci minor at North Central College, who otherwise blended into the crowd on the curb of S Washington St., is a member of the college’s National Organization of Women (NOW) chapter.

“We talk about these issues all the time, but we never really get an outlet to mobilize and feel like we’re playing an active role in our community,” Tyler said. “This provides an outlet for students from surrounding high schools, as well, to share their voice on the matter.”

Among the other organizations at the event was the American Association of University Women (AAUW) which was represented, in part, by Elizabeth Carroll.

Photo by Danny Olivares

Carroll emphasized Tyler’s point about outlets for students.

“We wanted to amplify their voices because, in the fight for abortion rights and access, young voices are paramount,” Carroll said.

“In our personal family situation,” Carroll continued, “our very first child had a genetic condition that was incompatible with life. We chose not to get an abortion, but I had the right to choose. I thought of all of the people that could not do that. If you didn’t have two jobs, if you weren’t married, if you had to choose between your job and your house. It’s not fair to not give people that choice.”

Photo by Danny Olivares

Once the crowd reached capacity, they began marching toward North Central’s campus. Along the way, there was chanting, conversations between friends and strangers and, occasionally, honking. Once at North Central, the crowd gathered around a small podium to listen to a handful of speakers. The first speaker, Elizabeth Gardner, is a sophomore at North Central and a part of the NOW chapter.

“To the people who condemn abortions I say, ‘Don’t get one,’” Gardner said to the crowd’s applause. “To them, and to those who stay polite and silent on our campus I say, ‘You don’t have to love abortion, but you do have to care for and respect those who make the choice that is best for them.’”

A Naperville North High School student speaking at the event, Lauren Weeber asked, “What does it mean to be a woman?” To this, she said she always answered, “Resilience.”

Referring to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Weeber said, “I was stunned by the decision. But, standing here today, looking at all of you, I’ve come back to the word of resilience. We are powerful, we are capable and we are going to change the world.”

Tahbata Diaz, a North Central student and member of the NOW chapter said she’s learned more about the standing of women in society as she’s gotten older. 

“As a child, I didn’t grow up wanting to be an advocate of women’s rights, because I assumed women already had rights. In many ways, I feel like our society, our system and our biases set us up for failure. These hurdles my mother had to jump through are what set so many women up to fail, to hold them back, to push them into an antiquated private sphere. We must show respect for the women who have had to make a very difficult decision. We must remember our compassion, not our judgment. The decision to overturn Roe doesn’t stop with abortion rights; it’s a longer decision to reevaluate the role of women in the United States. The systemic issues we discuss will continue happening if we don’t do anything about it.”

The rally ended with a call to action by Tyler.”There is so much at stake when we have the right to choose on the ballot,” she said. “Together, we will send a strong message to our policy makers that abortion rights and access must be protected and expanded. We hope this inspires you to rush to the polls.”