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Illinois in National Spotlight for Defending Reproductive Health

More than 290 anti-abortion bills have been filed in 45 states this year. (traci1/Adobe Stock)
More than 290 anti-abortion bills have been filed in 45 states this year. (traci1/Adobe Stock)
May 30, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois state leaders are making moves this week to ensure women's rights to reproductive health care are protected.

Senate Bill 25, known as the Reproductive Health Act, is in the hands of the Senate Public Health Committee, after the House version was passed this week.

The measure would establish a fundamental right to reproductive health, including access to contraception and abortion care.

Julie Lynn, manager of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, says the bill also calls for insurance companies to cover services related to abortion, and rescinds what she describes as outdated and unconstitutional prohibitions on reproductive health care.

"By repealing the current Illinois abortion law, it will remove old restrictions that are on the books that are dangerous, that if Roe were overturned those could go back into effect one day," explains Lynn. "We don't want to take any chances, and passing the RHA is a critical step."

Opponents call the legislation "radical," and contend it removes even minor protections for unborn babies and medical professionals who object to performing an abortion.

Also this week, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined 21 other states in an amicus brief urging a Texas federal district court to defend the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

In the pending case in Texas, the plaintiffs contend the ACA's requirement that employer-provided insurance include birth-control coverage is a violation of religious freedom.

Lynn contends it's just another attack on women's health care and reproductive health care at large.

"Birth control has been legal since the mid '60s; abortion has been legal since the early '70s," Lynn states. "It's 2019, and we need to stop attacking reproductive health care. It's time. It's past time."

More than 290 anti-abortion bills have been filed in 45 states this year, and laws have been passed in several states restricting or banning the procedure. Lynn says patients need to know that abortions still are legal.

"It's scary that these laws are being signed, but what's even scarier is that patients don't know where they can go," she says. "Abortion is still legal in all 50 states, but the ability to access abortion care is getting harder and harder."

In Congress, the Women's Health Protection Act was introduced last week, that would block medically unnecessary abortion restrictions being passed by states.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL