With the overwhelming majority of seats, Democrats in the Illinois state legislature are poised to pass two bills that would expand access to abortion not only throughout the state, but for women who live nearby.
The Illinois General Assembly proposed Reproductive Health Act (HB 2495) and SB 1594. Both would reverse older laws that criminalized abortion providers and required parental notification for minors who intended to have the procedure. Reports Rewire.News:
The Reproductive Health Act (HB 2495), proposed in the Illinois House by state Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), would repeal a 1975 law that includes criminal penalties for doctors who offer abortion care, though it has been largely blocked by the courts. The legislation also seeks to repeal targeted regulations on facilities that provide abortion services, repeal laws that have allowed husbands to block their wives from obtaining abortions, and require all private health insurance companies in the state to provide coverage for abortions.
Reproductive health advocates are encouraged by another provision in the bill that would allow advanced practice nurses and clinicians to provide in-clinic abortions. “Adding in-clinic abortions for nurse practitioners would be a huge benefit of this bill,” Liz Higgins, associate medical director of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told Rewire.News. “Limiting in-clinic abortions for advanced practice nurses is really just harming our patients by limiting access to health care in a timely manner.”
SB 1594 is not as wide-ranging a bill as the other, but it would remove access barriers for minors. It would repeal the 1995 Parental Notice of Abortion Act that requires a minor to notify a guardian or go before a judge before having an abortion.
The bills have now been moved to the Rules Committee. They are expected to pass when put to a vote, as the majority of the General Assembly are Democrats who support each bill.
Once passed, Illinois women will clearly benefit from having more access to the procedure. Of the 32,832 state residents who had the procedure in 2017, according to the Illinois Department of Health, most—21,288—are from Cook County, where the majority Latinx and Black city of Chicago is located.
Beyond these in-state residents, women who live in nearby states with restrictive laws will also benefit from expanded Illinois abortion laws. As of 2017, about 5,500 out-of-state women had the procedure performed in Illinois. According to Rewire.News:
Missouri is one of five states with a forced 72-hour waiting period between counseling and an abortion procedure. Both Missouri and Indiana ban the use of telemedicine to administer medication abortion and require minors to receive parental consent before terminating a pregnancy.
While Illinois has 40 facilities that provide abortions, Missouri only has one.
If these bills become law, Illinois will join other states that have recently passed laws to protect abortion or expand access. On the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22, New York State passed the Reproductive Health Act, which removes the procedure from the state’s criminal code and makes the protections given to women by Roe state law. Rewire.News reports that New Mexico and Rhode Island are currently working to pass new, less restrictive laws.