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After election results, a constitutional amendment on abortion appears in the cards

Monday, Nov 28, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

The Illinois Senate Republicans’ new leader, John Curran, told Capitol News Illinois the other day that there was nothing left to do on the abortion topic in Illinois.

“The reality is, what else can we do here in Illinois?” Sen. Curran said. “The laws of Illinois are more weighted towards guarantees of the rights to have an abortion than any other state in the nation. There’s no further to go.”

However, House Speaker Chris Welch strongly indicated recently that a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing reproductive rights was a very likely prospect.

“Right now, we’re a single Legislature or a single Supreme Court away from losing [abortion] rights,” Welch told KSDK TV.

Welch will soon have more members of his party than any Speaker since the state constitution was revised to reduce the chamber’s membership by a third. He said there were a number of explanations for his caucus’ expansion, but the United State Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was “monumental.”

“It changed everything,” Welch told me. “And the Republican Party, not just here in Illinois, but across the country, is wrong on those issues. They’re just wrong. Until they get it right on those issues, I think they’re gonna create opportunity for us to continue to expand.”

Welch said he’s never seen Democratic numbers like this before, calling the one-time Republican bastion of DuPage County, “BluePage.” The county, he said, is “one of those areas where our message resonates more than the Republican Party,” and predicted the GOP would continue losing ground if they don’t change.

Most every pre-election poll claimed that voters ranked abortion low on their priority lists. Yet, the abortion issue seemed to drive voters to the polls this year. What happened?

Senate President Don Harmon told me it may have been a couple of things. “Across the country, Democrats did about three points better than they were polling. And I think it’s in part because of the way voters responded to [the repeal of Roe v. Wade]. This is the first time in a long time a long-held right has been taken away in such dramatic fashion. I think that did motivate voters, but not necessarily the voters we were calling because they weren’t part of the turnout model. So I think when we unpack this, I think you’re going to see some voters, younger voters, younger women in particular — but not just women — who said, ‘I’m not giving up my rights that easily and I’m going to go vote.’

“And I also suspect, and would love to prove it with the analysis of the numbers, something we saw anecdotally going door to door, that women who would traditionally be considered Republican women weren’t thinking about voting Republican because of that issue. And they might have been lying to their husbands, they might have been lying to the pollsters, but they weren’t lying once they got inside the voting booth.”

To sum up, Harmon said, “I think voters we didn’t think were going to turn out, turned out. And I think that voters who would traditionally vote for Republican candidates turned out and said ‘I’ve had enough of this nonsense. I’m going to vote for a Democrat, or I’m certainly not going to vote for the crazy Republicans’ and skipped a race.”

The newly chosen leader of the powerful and successful pro-choice group Personal PAC told me she would “absolutely” work with legislative Republicans to recruit pro-choice candidates.

However, Sarah Garza Resnick told me it was “too early to tell,” when asked if she expected the Republicans to work with her. “But I think that any smart political strategist would need to read the tea leaves of what is going on and what the voters are sending a very clear message on. And if you want to stay relevant and get the other important issues that you care about discussed, then I think it would make sense to recruit and run pro-choice Republicans.”

Garza Resnick stressed that she hasn’t yet had a chance to talk with all other stakeholders about a possible constitutional amendment.

Even so, she said, “If you look at what happened in Kansas, and if you look at what happened where [abortion] was on the ballot in five states … on Nov. 8, the people of this country overwhelmingly want choice to be protected and codified and they don’t want it to be dismantled.”

So, considering all that, “codifying on the constitutional level would make sense,” Garza Resnick said.

Thoughts?

       

26 Comments
  1. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:04 am:

    I think the poll had some limitations. Voters might rank abortion below other issues, but become very motivated by abortion as an issue when abortion rights are taken away. In a pre Dobbs world, you might care about other issues more, but now focus on abortion because it is obvious those rights were never secure.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:17 am:

    ===He said there were a number of explanations for his caucus’ expansion, but the United State Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was “monumental.”

    “It changed everything,” Welch told me. “And the Republican Party, not just here in Illinois, but across the country, is wrong on those issues. They’re just wrong.===

    What abortion did… when it was out on the docket, when Roe was overturned, after Illinois’ primary…

    It reminded women that Republicans are dangerous to woman’s health…

    ===However, House Speaker Chris Welch strongly indicated recently that a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing reproductive rights was a very likely prospect.

    “Right now, we’re a single Legislature or a single Supreme Court away from losing [abortion] rights,” Welch told===

    Ball game. Ball game. It’s the whole ball game going forward… until abortion is enshrined in the Illinois constitution.

    Where and why Republicans thought that “Crime” or “Economy” would lead to a Red Wave… it’s the blindness to women.

    Republicans do not see women as an important constituency.

    Republicans want women to be quiet, vote as if their safety is in jeopardy and vote “because of ‘women things’ like milk, eggs, and that tea they like”

    Thing is, women have allies.. in men… and women… you tell them to be quiet and take away rights… oh, they’ll vote… in “Blue Page”, in Cook, everywhere.

    Frankly? Frankly, until Republicans recruit or elect pro-choice candidates and nominees, not ALL the GOP needs to be pro-choice, but until the Rosemary Mulligans and Mark Beaubiens return as actual candidates, nominees, and GA members… this super minority status will continue… or until the Illinois constitution enshrines abortion rights… which the GOP will oppose… thus making the GOP in Illinois more and more dangerous to women’s health.

    This ain’t new, ILGOP. This goes back to Oberweis, it goes back even farther than that… and they haven’t learned a thing.

    I don’t identify with the GOP, especially when the GOP is a clear and present danger to women’s health… and the leaders of this GOP give lip services as their past voting switches say otherwise.

    Can’t alienate 50.1% of voters, telling them their rights are less than even a year ago… and expect to win… no matter how many scary crime ads you run.


  3. - Anon221 - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:20 am:

    It’s open season for insurance choice right now. In reviewing one potential insurer, this language is in their 2022 brochure:

    “Not covered:
    • Procedures, services, drugs, and supplies related to abortions except when the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or when the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.”

    I don’t know if that language was also in their coverages prior to 2022, or if the SCOTUS decision prompted the insurer to insert that language recently. If it was recent… then insurance companies are imposing their own life views on the insured and ensuring that anyone wanting an abortion outside of their narrow definition, has to be prepared for all the costs on their own.

    In some cases, the life of the mother may indeed be in jeopardy because a hospital and/or medical staff are too cowed (or self-righteous) to perform even a D&C in some cases.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/11/15/1135882310/miscarriage-hemorrhage-abortion-law-ohio


  4. - Rabid - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:23 am:

    Welch meddling in the GOP forcing a member showdown


  5. - Highland IL - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:23 am:

    If you’re looking for something to help turnout in 2024 this makes perfect sense.


  6. - Homebody - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:25 am:

    I’m hopeful that this is the start of long realization process by some significant number of people who either used to be habitual GOP voters (or habitually non-voters) as to how bad the GOP is on basically every issue that impacts the majority of Americans.


  7. - very old soil - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:38 am:

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/why-did-single-women-vote-for-democrats-republicans-have-an-asinine-theory/ar-AA1489kI?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=44d970e507d84bb9a3a412f9a6dff064


  8. - Norseman - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:40 am:

    Oswego Willy @ 9:17 am +1


  9. - CornAl DoGooder - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 9:55 am:

    A win win for Democrats on this. Further strengthens abortion protections, and has shown in other states this year that putting it on the ballot is a turnout boon for Dems. Not that turnout will be an issue in 2024 with the presidential, but can’t hurt at all. Only wonder if the truly strategic political move would be to wait and put it on the ballot in 2026 to help in the next midterm.


  10. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:04 am:

    ===This goes back to Oberweis, it goes back even farther than that… and they haven’t learned a thing.===

    First one I remember was Judy Koehler running against Alan Dixon for the US Senate in 1986. Dixon won 65-34.


  11. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:06 am:

    Look Illinois ain’t Kansas or even Michigan, but until SCOTUS is more representative and less Right Wing Christian Guardian Council, I think it needs to be done.


  12. - New Nickname - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:16 am:

    Illinois legislators should vote on a new state nickname…Illinois, The Abortion State.

    In addition, JB should begin every public appearance with “Abortion today. Abortion tomorrow. Abortion forever.”


  13. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:19 am:

    ===Illinois legislators should vote on a new state nickname…Illinois, The Abortion State.

    In addition, JB should begin every public appearance with “Abortion today. Abortion tomorrow. Abortion forever.”===

    You know this is a self-own… right?

    LOL

    Lemme guess, “a woman has a right to make up her own mind to her own rights… if I say it’s ok”

    I needed this chuckle, this laugh. Thank you.

    It’s not an accident that Illinois is saving women’s lives by offering abortion, unless you’re kool with women being denied the right to live too.


  14. - illinifan - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:47 am:

    OW well said

    Pro-choice is about women having control of their lives and having access to safe health care options. Anti abortion laws do not end abortions. They just result in women’s lives being put at risk through potential illegal abortions or risky pregnancies.


  15. - levivotedforjudy - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:48 am:

    Roe vs. Wade was decided in 1973. It’s got to be wild for someone who is in their 40’s or younger who realize that in their entire lives, this thing that was never a thing is now a thing. Then the noise in some states about eliminating contraception. Great way to attract younger women (and people in their 40’s are not young, they are middle-aged).


  16. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:52 am:

    (Tips cap, humbly, to - Norseman - and illinfan -)

    Maybe the ILGOP needs to come to grips that women have a right to decide about their health, on their own.


  17. - Suburban Mom - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 10:58 am:

    Genuine question for the GOP voices here:

    I am a married mother of three children. The birth of my third child went catastrophically wrong. Both of us survived, but the doctors were very clear that if I ever get pregnant again, I will die. (And, if it matters, I will die before the fetus reaches viability, so we would both die.)

    The Catholic health system that was the only one within my insurance at the time (and just about the only game in town anyway) would not perform a tubal ligation, and would not prescribe birth control.

    What is your preferred solution to this problem? Never having sex with my husband again? Getting divorced? Taking my chances, dying, and leaving three children motherless?

    Literally the only answers I have gotten from pro-life politicians or religious leaders have been, “Well that doesn’t happen to people, if your uterus is that badly damaged, you can’t actually get pregnant” (factually false); “You should be grateful you’re alive at all” (totally agree, but this does not answer the question); or “God will provide.”

    What is your practical solution for a married mother who cannot access birth control and will die if she gets pregnant again? It’s not at all a hypothetical question — it is my actual life.


  18. - Manchester - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 11:08 am:

    Codify it.


  19. - Roadrager - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 11:38 am:

    I do not know if such an amendment would pass in 2024 or not, even with the tailwinds that are blowing right now. What I do know is that the mere mention of putting it on the ballot has Dan Proft calling up Dick Uihlien while Googling “Scrooge McDuck swimming vault quote estimate” on his laptop.


  20. - Anon221 - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 12:03 pm:

    It will not be enough to just codify a woman’s right to an abortion. Until ALL loopholes and end runs and whatever else you want to call preventing her from accessing reproductive health care IN FULL and WITHOUT restrictions regardless of where she lives, then she does NOT have full control over her self. Not a legislature, a court, a hospital, or an insurance company… none of the above should have the right to place additional restrictions on reproductive health care legally or monetarily once a right is codified. But that is what is happening post-Roe and should not get lost in a rights only discussion.


  21. - Lurker - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 12:36 pm:

    @Surban Mom: my reply to you is that you work with your insurance, explain the situation, and then get an exception that allows you to visit a hospital that would normally be out-of-network but is in-network for this one exception you agreed upon. They must comply because the odd situation is that the Catholic hospital can have our beliefs and act upon them accordingly but the insurer cannot.

    Also, I would add, that if your only hospital is a Catholic one and you do not share those beliefs, then you are going to have more problems as you age and reach end of life decisions.


  22. - Suburban Mom - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 12:57 pm:

    ===Also, I would add, that if your only hospital is a Catholic one===

    Oh, no worries, I moved to the Chicago area, even though I loved living downstate, in part because of this sort of thing. Kind-of tragically, all my problems were rapidly sorted by leaving my home and community behind to move to a place where I could access healthcare for me and adequate special ed supports for my disabled child.

    Which is not only going to happen more and more often to downstate Illinois — people who can afford to will leave for Chicago to have more access to services — but it’s going to happen to GOP states as well. When you’re aggressively hostile to women, the ones who can afford to will leave. When you’re aggressively hostile to families, the ones who can afford to will leave.

    But I keep posing my situation (that I was stuck in for over a year) to pro-life people, and I have yet to have anyone seriously answer or even engage with the question.


  23. - Papa2008 - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 1:28 pm:

    ===What is your practical solution for a married mother who cannot access birth control and will die if she gets pregnant again? It’s not at all a hypothetical question — it is my actual life.

    Is/was there not a Public Health Department in your county? I am under the impression they have all manner of birth control options available.


  24. - Anon221 - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 1:54 pm:

    Papa2008- Try Googling a few county health departments throughout the state and see if you can find that information easily. Your impression may not hold for all 102 counties.


  25. - illinifan - Monday, Nov 28, 22 @ 2:07 pm:

    Suburban Mom unfortunately the pro-lifers don’t engage because they have no answer. I believe they live in a dream world where all is lollipops and rainbows. This link provides an eye opener as to the level of birth control access. Those of us in urban areas where resources are plentiful often don’t have a clue https://powertodecide.org/what-we-do/access/contraceptive-deserts


  26. - Odysseus - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 8:57 am:

    Illinois doesn’t have a system like Colorado for LARC, so there is at least one more useful policy which could be adopted.

    https://cdphe.colorado.gov/fpp/about-us/colorados-success-long-acting-reversible-contraception-larc


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