SPRINGFIELD – Illinois was designated a state that “leans supportive” – one step more protective than neutral – toward abortion access by a national research group that supports reproductive rights.
The categorization comes after Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law a measure declaring access to reproductive health care a fundamental right June 12.
The Guttmacher Institute analyzed six types of restrictive abortion policies and six types of protective ones in each state, and classified them on a scale ranging from very hostile to very supportive.
Before this legislative session, Illinois was designated a “middle-ground” state. A bill from former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s tenure allows taxpayer dollars to be used for abortions, and a series of attorney general opinions clarified advanced practice clinicians could prescribe abortion medications.
With the Reproductive Health Act, sponsored in the state House by Chicago Democrat Kelly Cassidy and in the state Senate by Grayslake Democrat Melinda Bush, Illinois has a law ensuring access to the procedure and mandating private insurance companies that cover pregnancy-related benefits cover abortion as well. That brought the state’s categorization to “leans supportive.”
“In a devil’s advocate role, most of what we did with the RHA is remove bad things. In reality, 99 percent of what we did is take away potential pitfalls,” Cassidy said. “I guess it makes a little more sense through that lens, but I would’ve expected, between House Bill 40 and the RHA, that we would appear a little more favorable than just ‘leans supportive.’”
Bush added that by passing the act, the state became a “beacon” for women’s health care rights.
The states neighboring Illinois – including Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana – each received a varying designation of “hostile” abortion policies.
Elizabeth Nash, the institute’s senior states issues manager, said there are a few actions the General Assembly could take to improve Illinois’ classification.
Democrats Elgie Sims, a senator from Chicago, and Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a representative from Hillside, are already working on one action – repealing the Parental Notification of Abortion Act.
The law, which mandates those younger than 18 consult their parents two days before getting an abortion procedure, is the only restriction the Guttmacher Institute tracks that Illinois has on the books.