Pritzker calls General Assembly back to Springfield to ‘further enshrine’ reproductive rights

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker at an abortion rights rally in May.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday said he will call the General Assembly into special session in the coming weeks to “further enshrine” reproductive protections.

“Together, we are committed to taking swift action to further enshrine our commitment to reproductive health care rights and protections,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Illinois in 2019 established in state law the right to reproductive health care, including abortion — a measure put in place just in case the landmark Supreme Court case was overturned. The groundwork to protect abortion in Illinois was set in 2017 when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure that both allowed the public funding of abortions and ensured the procedure would remain legal.

And in December, Pritzker signed a measure that repealed the last state law on the books that restricted abortion rights — a law that stopped minors from having to give parental notification before having an abortion.

“In Illinois, we will hold firm to these rights and continue to work with stakeholders to expand them,” Pritzker said in his statement announcing the special session.

Illinois and Minnesota will now be the only upper Midwestern states that will see no change in abortion access.

Planned Parenthood this week called on more funding to help support an influx of women seeking abortions in the state. The group also hopes the scope of medical professionals allowed to perform abortions will be expanded to help handle what they believe will be a huge number of women coming into the state for abortions.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who sponsored the legislation that Rauner signed, in May said the state’s Democrats must come up with other ways to protect women in states that may restrict abortion, including helping them get to Illinois or become Illinois residents.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 7,534 nonresidents received abortions in Illinois in 2019, compared with 5,529 in 2017 and 2,970 in 2014.

Democratic Party of Illinois Chair U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly also said in a statement the state “will continue to serve as a haven for women across the Midwest and the country who need access to abortion.” 

“I share the pain, shock, and anger so many are feeling, and I am especially worried about further attacks on the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color from this court,” Kelly said. “However, Illinois Democrats will never relent in fighting back in the General Assembly, in the halls of Congress, or at the ballot box to protect the fundamental rights of all America.”

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June 24, 2022 at 11:15AM

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