Illinois Lawmakers Advance Reproductive Health Act to State Senate

Illinois State Capitol

While some states such as Alabama, Georgia and Ohio are passing legislation to restrict abortion access, lawmakers in other states (including New York) are enacting their own bills that protect reproductive rights and reinforce the legal precedent established by Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Earlier this week, for example, the Illinois House of Representatives approved an abortion-rights bill that’s widely regarded as the most progressive legislation of its kind in the nation.

Known as the Reproductive Health Act, the new bill would repeal the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, which included provisions for spousal consent, waiting periods, restrictions on the facilities where abortions are performed and criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions. It would also establish abortion as “a fundamental right” of pregnant women and state that “a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent rights.”

“To our neighbors in Illinois who hear the news around the country and worry that this war on women is coming to Illinois, I say, not on my watch,” said Democratic representative and author of the bill Kelly Cassidy during a chamber debate. “To the people in Missouri and Alabama and Georgia and Kentucky and Mississippi and Ohio, I say, not on my watch.”

The bill was approved by a 64-50 vote on Tuesday following a heated debate, and it will now advance to the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Meanwhile, in Vermont and Massachusetts, lawmakers are attempting to pass their own pieces of legislation which would protect abortion rights in their states as well.

It has been a troubling and at times disheartening year for abortion-rights advocates in America, but here in New York and across the nation there are still people fighting to preserve legal protections for women who seek abortions and the physicians who provide them.