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Updated: Jun 7, 2019


Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton today introduced a resolution urging the Illinois General Assembly to support HB 2495, the Illinois Reproductive Health Act (IRHA). Passage of the IRHA would ensure that residents of Illinois maintain their fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about their own reproductive health.

“It is critical that all residents can continue to be able to practice their fundamental rights to choose their reproductive futures,” said Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton. “We must ensure the fundamental right for legal, safe abortions is protected for future generations and safeguard the reproductive rights of women in Illinois and beyond.”

The Illinois Reproductive Health Act (IRHA) would establish and protect all personal choices individuals may make about their reproductive health, including the right to choose or refuse birth control, the right to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth, and the right to choose or refuse abortion. The IRHA amends the Illinois Insurance Code to ensure that private insurance companies cover health care costs for services related to abortion, adding to already required coverage related to contraception, infertility treatments and maternity care. It also regulates clinics that perform abortions like all other medical clinics and codifies current standards of medical best practices on the types of medical professionals that can perform abortions or prescribe non-surgical abortion-related medications.

"Women have been marching for decades, and this Monday I was proud to march, yet again, and address several hundred fellow marchers at a rally at Federal Plaza in support of HB 2495,” said Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, 6th District. “We won't go back! I wholeheartedly support this resolution and am proud to sponsor it with Commissioner Britton.”

Furthermore, IRHA repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975 and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which together established criminal penalties for performing an abortion or providing certain types of contraceptives and allowed a husband to prevent his wife from having an abortion. Though currently enjoined by courts and unenforceable, should Roe v. Wade be overturned in the US Supreme Court, these injunctions would likely face being overturned by state courts and the criminalization of abortion would be revived. “With the deplorable actions that have been taken by states such as Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio, it is more important now than ever before that we take steps in the State of Illinois to protect the right to choose and for all people to make healthcare decisions with their doctor,” said Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison, 15th District.

Criminalization of abortion can have a chilling effect that could spur preventable deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions. For example, medical professionals may apply more narrow restrictions than required by the law. Further, women and girls may be deterred from seeking health care for life-threatening complications due to unsafe abortions or other pregnancy issues. Marginalized individuals will also be disproportionately affected by abortion restrictions as they do not have the financial means to access private care or to travel the sometimes-long distances to find safe and legal services in another country, state or county.

“Obtaining reproductive health care is not and should never be a criminal activity. Sadly, Illinois stands as a lone beacon, safeguarding abortion rights for the entire Midwest region,” Terry Cosgrove, president and CEO of Personal PAC. “I thank Commissioner Britton for his leadership in ensuring Springfield hears us loud and clear: Illinois must keep abortion safe and accessible.”

Nearby states with restrictive laws are also served by Illinois’ safeguards. In 2017, over 5,500 out-of-state women traveled to Illinois to gain access to the procedure, safely and without waiting a burdensome length of time.

“I am grateful to the members of the Cook County Board for introducing a resolution urging the passage of the Reproductive Health Act. The time for Illinois to recognize abortion as health care is long overdue,” Jennifer Welch, President and CEO at Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

The international community has come to the consensus that criminalizing abortion rights is inhumane and discriminatory. A 2009 report from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health non-profit, found that women around the world access abortion services at a statistically similar rate whether the medical procedure is legal and safe or illegal and unregulated. The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), also known as the Treaty for the Rights of Women, has consistently stated that restrictive abortion laws constitute discrimination against women. Under international human rights law, everyone has a right to life, health, and to be free from violence, discrimination, and torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and that being forced into illegal, unsafe abortions constitutes a violation of those international human rights.

Illinois state employees and Medicaid recipients already receive full coverage for their reproductive health care. In 2017, Illinois legislators passed and then-Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a requirement that state health insurance and Medicaid cover abortions, in addition to already covered contraceptives and maternal care.

The IRHA was filed with the Clerk as H.B. 2495 by Representative Kelly M. Cassidy, with Chief Co-Sponsors including Representative Sara Feigenholtz, Representative Emanuel Chris Welch, Representative Marcus C. Evans, Jr., Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth and 34 additional co-sponsors.


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