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Legislators looking at more ways to protect abortion rights

Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Vanity Fair

Kelly Cassidy saw this day coming.

Some of her colleagues in the Illinois state general assembly thought she was being “hyperbolic,” she says — maybe even “hysterical.” But the Chicago Democrat, a longtime reproductive rights advocate, saw the “fertile seeds” that the antichoice movement had spent years planting starting to blossom into a grave threat to abortion rights, and led an effort to build a “firewall” of laws to protect and expand access to the procedure — including the Reproductive Health Act she sponsored, which was signed by Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker in 2019 to make abortion a “fundamental right.”

That legislative push helped turn Illinois into a national leader in reproductive healthcare. It is also likely to soon make it a refuge for people in states as far away as Texas, who will face even less access to abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as it is expected to do. Indeed, Illinois already serves large numbers of out of state patients, who often face significant barriers to abortion even with Roe in place. But the state is bracing for a post-Roe surge: Cassidy and others in Illinois helped secure freedom of choice here in Illinois before reproductive rights came under existential threat nationally; now, healthcare advocates here are working to ensure they can meet patients’ needs after those threats come to pass. […]

“We are an island,” says Democrat Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, an Illinois state representative who as a freshman lawmaker helped get the Reproductive Health Act and other pro-choice legislation to Pritzker’s desk. “I think our sense of responsibility feels larger, because as an Illinois legislator, I now feel a responsibility to women outside of my own borders.” […]

In Connecticut, Democratic Governor Ned Lamont in May signed a law protecting people from out of state who seek or provide abortions there, allowing those facing legal action against them in another state for receiving or providing abortion care to sue for damages. “I am very appreciative to the majority of lawmakers in Connecticut who had the foresight to draft this legislation at a time when the right to a safe legal abortion in America is in jeopardy,” the governor said. Cassidy says she and her colleagues are looking not only at protecting providers, but trying to find ways to make it easier for abortion providers from states where the procedure is outlawed to “reestablish themselves” in Illinois. […]

The trouble is, they’re not only scrambling to meet the needs of those from outside their states — they’re fighting to ensure their own protections they’ve passed stay in place. “We can’t sleep on this firewall by any means,” Cassidy says. Challenges to the RHA and other Illinois laws will likely crop up in the wake of a Roe decision, Cassidy says, and rights like marriage equality could come under threat next. And the safeguards Illinois has in place could be dismantled by a single election — if Democrats lose their majority in Springfield, for instance, or if Pritzker loses reelection in November to one of the Republicans who have spent primary season trying to pass a conservative purity test. “We did everything we could do, but now we’ve got to keep doing it,” says Cassidy.

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  1. - Real - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 1:32 pm:

    High cost of living
    High crime

    But yeah abortion is what we are up in arms about.

  2. - BlueBin - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 1:35 pm:

    This may come as a surprise, but people/legislators can be concerned about more than one thing at a time…

  3. - Pundent - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 1:43 pm:

    =But yeah abortion is what we are up in arms about.=

    If the voters think this is the nothing burger you believe it is, they can easily make their feelings known.

  4. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 1:55 pm:

    yeah, I’m up in arms because my agency is important. AND I can do many things at one time. jeez…..

  5. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 2:05 pm:

    “fertile seeds” that the antichoice movement had spent years planting starting to blossom into a grave threat to abortion rights”

    Wow, that is some creative prose. Or stated another way “pro-life individuals advocated for their cause.

  6. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 2:18 pm:

    “abortion is what we are up in arms about”

    I’m more than ‘up in arms’ about it. Whereas I don’t care at all about “high crime,” which is by most metrics significantly lower than it was for the entirety of my life until I was in my late 20s, nor do I care about “high cost of living,” something entirely beyond the control of anyone running for statewide office.

  7. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 2:28 pm:

    We really do need more people like Kelly Cassidy who are fully aware of the long-term actions being taken, and what can be done at the legislative level to put up similar firewalls.

    As she correctly mentioned, this isn’t just about abortion. It’s not even about marriage rights.

    She also is intelligent enough not to trip over the deliberate traps that have been laid for those like her to fall into - which really is a critically important personality trait she possesses in this situation.

    But I’m not in the legislature, and she is a better person than I am - so I can openly say the end goal being fought against here is Theocracy. I think she is aware of that too, as it’s almost impossible to not be aware of it when looking at the big picture.

  8. - Leap Day William - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 2:31 pm:

    == Or stated another way “pro-life individuals advocated for their cause.==

    Or, stated another way “Anti-Choice and Pro-Forced-Birth individuals aggressively lobbied to mandate control over other people’s bodies.”

  9. - SWIL_Voter - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 2:48 pm:

    “ Or stated another way “pro-life individuals advocated for their cause.”

    They aren’t pro life though that’s the problem. They’re just pro birth. Once the kid is born these same “advocates” have no problem starving these kids or letting them get their head blown off in school shootings.

  10. - levivotedforjudy - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 2:48 pm:

    You have to give credit where credit is due. I thought this was an attention grab by Cassidy then to put a law on the books that would never be needed. I tip my hat.

  11. - froganon - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 2:54 pm:

    @Donnie Elgin - “pro-life individuals advocated for their cause.
    Pro - Fetus individuals enforce their ideology on people who reject it. People who oppose vaccinations & masking, gun control, health care for all and a fully funded education for everyone aren’t pro-life. Once that baby sees the light of day, they’re on their own in the “pro-fetus” community.

  12. - Ryder - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 3:16 pm:

    -Real-132pm…..You are spot on…
    Crime and High Cost of living….especially gasoline what I hear everyone talking about.

  13. - MisterJayEm - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 3:26 pm:

    “Or stated another way ‘pro-life individuals advocated for their cause.’”

    That would be apt if anti-choicer had won by successfully changing the opinion of the American people.

    But they didn’t — they just changed a couple of justices and to hell with the opinion of the American people.

    – MrJM

  14. - Arguenda - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 8:19 pm:

    I’m with TheInvisibleMan.

    And yeah, I’m het up about abortion: it goes beyond ‘just’ my control over my own body and extends into other rights.

    However, props to the pre-life movement for their stick-to-it-iveness. Lesson noted and thank God for folks who did see the writing on the wall.

  15. - Proud Papa Bear - Thursday, Jun 2, 22 @ 8:42 pm:

    I’ll never have to make that choice but far be it from me to cast my stone at she who does.

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