Illinois Senate approves sweeping abortion rights bill, sending the plan to Gov. J.B. Pritzker

A bill that establishes a “fundamental right” for women to get an abortion in Illinois cleared the state Senate late Friday night, sending the sweeping measure to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who already has signaled his support.

As the clock approached midnight Friday, the Senate voted 34-20 in favor of the abortion legislation, which comes amid an increased sense of urgency among advocates looking to protect abortion access as a series of states have passed laws essentially banning the practice.

“I believe, frankly, there’s a war against women’s rights going on,” Sen. Melinda Bush, the Grayslake Democrat who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said about the restrictive laws other states have passed.

The bill establishes the “fundamental right” of a women to have an abortion and states that a “fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent rights.” It repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, doing away with provisions for spousal consent, waiting periods, criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions and other restrictions on facilities where abortions are performed.

The bill, called the Reproductive Health Act, treats abortion “like every other medical procedure,” Bush said.

Republican Sen. Sue Rezin of Morris, however, called the measure a “radical” expansion of what’s allowed under the law.

And Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, said the idea that the measure is necessary “simply to protect a woman’s right to choose is not accurate.”

“This bill goes much further and does much more,” Righter said.

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After the 65-40 House vote Tuesday, Pritzker issued a statement saying he was eager to sign the measure into law.

“Illinois is making history, because our state will now be the most progressive in the nation for reproductive healthcare. In Illinois, we trust women to make the most personal and fundamental decisions of their lives — and now, that will be the law of the land, even as it’s under threat in other states,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Proponents of the bill headed to Pritzker’s desk said that while certain provisions in Illinois’ abortion law are not enforced because of court injunctions, pending cases could lead to overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which legalized abortion nationwide.

In Missouri, one of the states that recently passed a restrictive abortion law, a judge on Friday ruled that the state’s last abortion provider’s license would not expire.

The Illinois bill also repeals the state’s Partial-Birth Abortion law, but a federal law banning the late-term procedure except to save a mother’s life remains in place.

“There is nothing more intrinsic to freedom than bodily autonomy,” said Democratic Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields.

Bush said she and other supporters of the measure have faced threats.

“We’re not going back,” Bush said. “We’re not going back to coat hangers, we’re not going back to dying. We’re not going back. And I am proud to say Illinois is a beacon. For women’s rights, for human rights.”

Twitter @by_jamiemunks

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June 1, 2019 at 07:33AM

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