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RHA appears back on track

Monday, May 27, 2019

* Tribune

An Illinois House committee on Sunday night voted 12-7 in support of an amendment to an abortion rights bill, advancing a controversial measure that had been stalled for months.

The bill, which is being sponsored by Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, finally appeared poised to move forward last week, after a lengthy discussion by the House Democratic Caucus. Sunday’s vote came hours after the measure was sent to the House Appropriations Committee.

There has been a renewed sense of urgency behind the measure after several states passed restrictive abortion laws, and concerns that court cases slated to be decided after the General Assembly adjourns could result in injunctions being lifted on some pieces of the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, Cassidy said. […]

The bill repeals the state’s current abortion law and replaces it with a new law that removes measures involving spousal consent, waiting periods, criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions and other restrictions on facilities where abortions are performed. The amendment to the bill that was filed on Sunday seeks to clarify the definitions of viability and health, which Cassidy said were developed through discussions with colleagues.

* Capitol News Illinois

One [amendment, Emily Werth, an attorney with the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberty Union] said, makes “explicitly clear” a health care provider who has a moral, ethical or religious objection to abortions do not have to participate in performing one. The Reproductive Health Act would repeal several statutes in existing law that refuse to take part in such procedures, leaving one law, the Health Care Right of Conscience Act in place. […]

The newly-filed act also clarifies a contentious point among opponents — that the Reproductive Health Act requires private insurance companies regulated by the state to cover abortion procedures if they also cover pregnancy-related benefits. It now allows for cost-sharing provisions, such as copayments, so long as they do not exceed those that apply to pregnancy-related coverage.

Finally, Werth said, the bill clarifies that physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses can only “provide abortion care that is otherwise consistent with what is within their scope of practice and their professional licensing act.” […]

“The opponents to the bill have really focused, unfortunately, on later abortion, which is rare — but they have focused in on that and have been saying some things that are frankly, at best misleading and at worst completely untrue about the legislation,” said Brigid Leahy, senior director for public policy for Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “We have added in clarifying language [on viability] that basically clarifies what is happening right now in Illinois, what the standard is right now and what it has been for many, many years.”

* Illinois Public Radio

Sponsoring state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Democrat from Chicago, said it’s about trusting women and their doctors to make the best choice for their health and lifestyle.

“My abortion was medically necessary,” Cassidy told her colleagues. “It saved my life. It preserved my fertility. It allowed for the creation of my family, my children, who are my world.”

Hannah Meisel was live-tweeting the bill’s progress last night. Click here for that.

* Things did become contentious

While objecting to bill, several Republicans also took issue with the way the amendment was brought to committee, saying it prevented opponents from being able to testify against the legislation.

Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, objected that the hearing notice was posted online only an hour in advance.

“No one from my district could have made it here to testify on this bill with one hour’s notice,” Demmer said. “I imagine that’s true of many of my constituents.”

Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said SB 25 was “hijacked” to make sure the bill was heard on Sunday night of a holiday weekend.

″(It’s) what I would consider secrecy,” she said. “It was rushed. … I’m disappointed that it’s been handled this way.”

* Illinois’ Catholic bishops…

During the past week, we have watched supporters of the misnamed “Reproductive Health Act” propel the legislation into the end-of-session rush. The introduced version of the bill dramatically rewrites current abortion law, going further than Roe v. Wade in stripping human rights and dignity from the unborn child with this single statement: “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.” The fundamental premise of the bill is flawed, and no amendment or tweak to the language will change the fact that it is designed to rob the vulnerable life in the womb of any trace of human dignity and value.

On Memorial Day, there will be five days left in the legislative session set to end on May 31. Major issues that will require bipartisan cooperation and unity among lawmakers remain, such as passing a balanced budget for the health, education and safety of Illinois residents and crafting a statewide construction plan with unresolved funding. Conversations on these matters need to take place in an atmosphere of comity and civility, and any talk of abortion will only sow more divisiveness and disharmony in today’s polarized political climate.

We ask that lawmakers set aside consideration of the “Reproductive Health Act,” especially since no final form of the bill has been published, vetted through hearings or fully discussed.

* Planned Parenthood…

Statement from Jennifer Welch, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Illinois

”I am grateful to Chairwoman Robyn Gabel for calling the Reproductive Health Care Act to a vote in the Human Services Appropriations. The time for recognizing abortion as health care in Illinois is long overdue. We’re looking forward to the bill moving quickly through committee to a full vote in the General Assembly and off to the Governor’s desk for his signature.”

* Mayor Lightfoot…

I applaud the legislators who voted yes tonight on the passage of the Reproductive Health Act. With the onslaught of attacks against reproductive rights happening all across the country, we must act to double down on protections here in Illinois. The time is now to ensure that we preserve access to safe, legal abortion in our state. We won’t go backwards. The full General Assembly must act swiftly to pass the RHA.

* Related…

* ‘Just seems cruel’: 800-mile trip to end severely troubled pregnancy illustrates divide on abortion laws

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments
  1. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    In Illinois, our state constitution is more of a guideline than a series of rules, as legislators are free to ignore its provisions without consequence


  2. - cover - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 10:05 am:

    = In Illinois, our state constitution is more of a guideline than a series of rules, as legislators are free to ignore its provisions without consequence =

    Specifics, please…


  3. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 10:39 am:

    Illinois Constitution Article 4 section 7 requires the committees of each House shall give reason\nable public notice of meetings, including a statement of items to be included in those meetings.

    Sunday bill called the Reproductive Healthcare Act which suddenly reappeared Sunday night at 6:08 in the Rules committee scheduled for a 7:08 committee hearing.

    How many concerned Illinois residents can travel to Springfield on a hour’s notice?

    Is that reasonable public notice of a meeting on very controversial legislation?


  4. - Odysseus - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    “Just seems cruel”

    The cruelty is the point.


  5. - wordslinger - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    Given recent developments in other states and the composition of the Dem majorities, this had to move to a floor vote.


  6. - Precinct Captain - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 11:25 am:

    - Lucky Pierre - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 9:41 am

    Lucky, if you’re so upset, why don’t you sue? Oh, is it because the law and rules governing the operations of the House are comstitional? That’s what I thought!


  7. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 11:26 am:

    “The way in which democrats have moved this bill through the legislature shows they have no decency”

    Republicans jammed through anti-union legislation in Wisconsin in the dead of the night. McConnell blew up the filibuster for SCOTUS nominations. Right wingers can dish it out but can’t take it.

    “Look for continued voices of Illinois separation, I hope it happens peacefully.”

    It’s not going to happen. People who hate the legislation and the political direction of the state can sit here and take it or move. No way are we going to let a radical minority dictate whether the state should remain intact.


  8. - Politix - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    “Just seems cruel”

    That’s a feature, not a bug.


  9. - Tim - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    The state constitution requires a balanced budget, doesn’t it? Have had one of those for at least 15 years, have we?


  10. - A guy - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 12:14 pm:

    In the last week of May, there simply aren’t any rules. Regardless of positions on this issue and many others, the process in our state is deeply, deeply flawed. The environment for conducting good government simply doesn’t exist here.


  11. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    ===there simply aren’t any rules===

    The rules were followed. It’s an unusual move, sure, and the tradition and spirit of the rules weren’t followed, but the letter of the chamber’s rules were followed.


  12. - wordslinger - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    –“Additionally, I’m also concerned about how difficult it would be for law enforcement to determine if someone is driving under the influence.”–

    That’s incorrect. You can find out for yourself in the link below, if you care to do the reading.

    https://www.civicfed.org/sites/default/files/illinoisroadmapfy2020.pdf


  13. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    Technically within rules - but to gut and replace on such a divisive topic over a holiday weekend will not be quickly forgotten.


  14. - Graduated College Student - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 2:27 pm:

    ===Technically within rules - but to gut and replace on such a divisive topic over a holiday weekend will not be quickly forgotten.===

    Let’s be real here, they could have followed the letter AND the spirit of the rules and y’alls would not have quickly forgotten this. You and yours haven’t been good faith actors on this issue for decades.


  15. - wordslinger - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 2:47 pm:

    –Technically within rules - but to gut and replace on such a divisive topic over a holiday weekend will not be quickly forgotten.–

    The Grievances On Parade super-minority got to do their bit. The outcome was always going to be the same.


  16. - dbk - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 2:59 pm:

    Given what’s happening in other states (e.g. Georgia, Alabama most recently), the decision to move quickly on the RHA was politically sound.

    I understand that many are opposed, but frankly, Illinois is preserving the direction of most Western democracies. We are, after all, a majority progressive state.


  17. - wordslinger - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 4:54 pm:

    –Look for continued voices of Illinois separation, I hope it happens peacefully.–

    Is there some other way it could happen? How’s that?


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 5:09 pm:

    - Lucky Pierre -

    Only a uber-liberal governor like Bruce Rauner could Sigh HB40.

    Maybe Bruce and Diana will urge former Raunerites to support RMA.

    The point?

    If the GOP was angered by Rauner, right now the GOP GA can firmly be against the RMA, but looking at the suburbs, women, the reason the Rauners felt going with HB40, besides Diana’s reputation, would be a necessity in the suburbs and to attract suburban women votes.

    That’s the politics to this.

    Are the GOP GA members willing to have candidates in the collars, and women that support RMA… to win?

    Is the RMA another line that excludes and shrinks the party?


  19. - Perrid - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 5:12 pm:

    “The outcome was always going to be the same”

    word, if it was always going to be the same, why the dirty tricks? All pushing it through last minute does is make sure less people are involved in the discussion. That’s not how democracy is supposed to work.

    To Grandson of Man, your argument is equivalent to a toddler yelling “But HE started it”. IL’s leaders are not responsible for the bad behavior of WI’s leaders. They are responsible for their own.

    Finally, I agree that this line is excessive: “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.”

    So not only do the mother’s right supersede their baby’s rights (which I can actually see the argument for, and in some cases agree with) but the state is saying the baby HAS no rights. Disturbing.


  20. - wordslinger - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 5:40 pm:

    –word, if it was always going to be the same, why the dirty tricks? All pushing it through last minute does is make sure less people are involved in the discussion. That’s not how democracy is supposed to work.–

    “Dirty tricks” within the rules?

    I’m willing to be convinced that the outcome would have been different somehow. Have at it.

    But I came to believe a long time ago that a committee or floor “debate” never changed a vote. Maybe this would have been different, since abortion is a such an obscure and unexplored issue in the public square.

    As to how a democracy is supposed to work, I’m pretty sure it’s by the votes of elected representatives.


  21. - Perrid - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 5:51 pm:

    Word I agree the fix was and is in on this, and the vote was always going to be what it was. So? Just because someone thinks listening to constituents or experts or legislators argue is boring or a waste of time isn’t a very good reason not to let them speak.

    And yes, I’m going to say slipping in a hearing with an hour of prep time is a trick. People who wanted to be there and be heard were not given the opportunity, through no fault of their own. The fact that it is within the letter of the rules is not a justification for it, instead it is a condemnation of the rules as currently written.


  22. - wordslinger - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 5:57 pm:

    –Word I agree the fix was and is in on this,–

    The fix? Like fraudulent?


  23. - Perrid - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 7:46 pm:

    I’m not saying it’s fraudulent, I don’t know what that would even mean, just that everything has been decided beforehand, and the process itself, the hearing, doesn’t matter (to the legislators).


  24. - wordslinger - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 8:16 pm:

    –I’m not saying it’s fraudulent, I don’t know what that would even mean,–

    You said “the fix was in,” i.e. “fixed,” fraudulent or dishonest.


  25. - Amalia - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 9:35 pm:

    “So not only do the mother’s right supersede their baby’s rights (which I can actually see the argument for, and in some cases agree with) but the state is saying the baby HAS no rights. Disturbing.”

    Yes, disturbing if a woman cannot control her own body, make decisions for herself, live her life with agency, have decisions made by a bunch of male legislators. That is disturbing. This bill helps to change that and makes our state a leader for women. Women should be able to make all sorts of decisions about their reproductive choices and we should support them in those decisions.


  26. - Perrid - Monday, May 27, 19 @ 11:13 pm:

    Maybe I’m misusing the phrase, but I think it just means the decision was made beforehand, that the outcome was already decided, that the act itself didn’t matter. If we were talking about a competition it would be fraudulent. This isn’t a competition. Again, maybe I’m stretching the phrase too far, but I’ve heard it used more broadly than that.


  27. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 28, 19 @ 1:19 am:

    Committee hearing on short notice during the last week of May? I’m shocked.


  28. - SAP - Tuesday, May 28, 19 @ 7:38 am:

    That was me who was shocked at 1:19


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