Illinois House Passes Expansive Abortion Rights Bill

As other states, including neighboring Missouri, have passed laws that are tantamount to abortion bans, Illinois is moving in the opposite direction.

After an emotional, but by and large respectful debate, the Illinois House on Tuesday voted 64 to 50 to enshrine in state law a woman’s fundamental right to have an abortion.

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“Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, efforts to undermine reproductive rights have been constant. We have seen in recent days and weeks these attacks have increased dramatically. They are focused and strategic and aimed at undermining our right to bodily autonomy and self-determination,” sponsoring Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said. “Not on my watch.”

Cassidy repeatedly said the measure will merely codify in state statue what is already common practice. 

The measure, Senate Bill 25, repeals the Illinois Abortion Law, which could punish doctors for performing abortions – law that has technically been on the books since the ‘70s but is not in practice due to court injunctions and decrees.

“Today, I stand up for all the people impacted by the concerted efforts to take away our right to self-determination,” Cassidy said. “To my male colleagues who today talked about not believing that it’s a man’s business to say what a woman should do with her body. What I say is, it’s also not my business to tell you what to do with your body. I want us all to have that right to self-determination.”

Cassidy said the new law is a necessary protection in case those legal injunctions are rolled back.

But Republicans, who voted as a block against the measure, say it’s a vast expansion of abortion that, in guaranteeing a mother’s fundamental right to have an abortion, removes protection of viable newborns.

“This bill will mean that for a woman at my stage in pregnancy, where the baby responds to his dad’s voice as he reads him books at night, a woman could go to the facility, the baby is perfectly healthy, but if that woman says, ‘Based on my familial health, this is medically necessary,’ that is allowed,” said Rep. Avery Bourne, who is due with her first child in July.          

The measure goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is an avid supporter of abortion rights. 

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

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