* Press release…
The Illinois House and Senate chief sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) were joined [yesterday] afternoon by a number of other legislators and advocates to call on the Illinois House to advance critical legislation that protects access to reproductive health care in our state. The RHA – introduced in February – repeals long-blocked abortion laws in Illinois and assures that all reproductive care (including abortion care) is treated as health care. The two chief sponsors will be joined by Handmaids representing characters from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. The Handmaids have been standing vigil in the Capitol for weeks to support the legislation.
“As we saw last week in Georgia and this week in Alabama, powerful forces are coordinating around the country in a full-scale attack on women’s health care – especially reproductive health care,” said State Representative Kelly Cassidy, the lead sponsor of the RHA in the Illinois House. “These anti-abortion activists are pushing hard to get a case to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. We must act in Illinois – with urgency – to pass the RHA and protect women’s access to health care.”
The Reproductive Health Act was introduced in February by Representative Cassidy and Senator Melinda Bush in the Illinois Senate. The measure has been stalled in the House since that time. The legislators expressed concern today that women’s health care is not being prioritized in the legislative session that ends on May 31.
“Women in Illinois cannot wait to see what the Supreme Court does with our basic rights – including the ability to decide when (and if) to become a parent,” added Senator Bush. “Fearing this moment, women came out in large numbers in November 2018 to vote. We need to represent these voices here in Springfield and pass the RHA. I look forward to the debate in the Senate.”
Also addressing the event was State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch, chief co-sponsor of the RHA and Chair of the Executive Committee of the House. Representative Welch joined the sponsors in calling for the bill to be moved to the Executive Committee so that it can move to the floor of the House for a final vote.
“The RHA should be in the House Executive Committee where it will get a full hearing and a vote to go to the floor,” said Representative Welch. “With cases headed to the Supreme Court that could reverse Roe, it is time for us to act.”
One person wasn’t mentioned in all of this: House Speaker Michael Madigan. MJM could move that bill to House Exec because it’s now in Rules after languishing in subcommittee for months.
* Capitol News Illinois…
“Since that day, each week has brought a new horror, a new reason why this is so much more important,” Cassidy said. “I woke up this morning to yet more news of how close we are to losing our right to self-determination, our right to access true reproductive health care.”
She was referencing a law signed Wednesday by Alabama’s governor effectively banning abortion in the state. Other states, including Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, have passed restrictive abortion laws this year.
Some of those states aim to get their laws before the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.
Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, vice president of Catholics for Choice, called those bills “onerous and cruel.” The group supports the Reproductive Health Act.