Illinois lawmakers weigh heightened abortion protections
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois lawmakers were working during the last day of their lame duck session on a measure that would secure access to reproductive health care, which would make theirs the latest state to pursue abortion rights protections since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June.
The bill, which the Legislature would have to pass Tuesday before a new round of lawmakers was sworn in Wednesday, would shield reproductive health care patients and providers from out-of-state legal action and widen access to reproductive care. It would also protect the licenses of Illinois health care professionals who provide care that is illegal in another state and prevent insurers from charging more for out-of-network care when in-network providers object to treatment on moral grounds.
The Democratic-led House and Senate were working Tuesday to iron out differences in their versions of the bills.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois said that since Roe was overturned, it has seen more out-of-state patients than ever. Before the Dobbs decision in the U.S. Supreme Court left abortion up to states, Planned Parenthood saw patients from 10 to 15 other states besides Illinois. Since then, its clinics have treated patients from 33 states.
The proposal was introduced via amendments to existing acts rather than as a standalone bill that would require more time and scrutiny.
Mary Kate Zander, who heads the anti-abortion group Illinois Right to Life, called on lawmakers to provide greater transparency.
“They know that the people in our state are not supportive of this type of legislation. Because if they were, they would pass this legislation in a conventional way,” she said.
Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey, who lost the governor’s race to Pritzker in November, called the measure “pure evil” on the Senate floor.
“This is wrong. God help us,” he said.
Ameri Klafeta, director of the Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the bill would help reinforce abortion protections in Illinois at a time when reproductive rights are under attack elsewhere in the country.
“We are not letting states like Texas, where there are attacks on abortion care and attacks on gender affirming care, tell us in Illinois what care people can get in the state,” she said.
Other states have also moved to protect abortion rights. The Democratic governors of Colorado, North Carolina and Hawaii issued executive orders to protect abortion providers and patients from extradition to states that have banned the procedure. And in November, voters in battleground Michigan enshrined abortion rights in their state’s constitution — joining Democratic California and Vermont in taking that step. ___
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