Illinois lawmakers who represent the Kendall County area have been expressing a range of emotions after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act into law.
Pritzker signed the bill on Wednesday, June 12, making Illinois the most liberal state in the U.S. for access to reproductive health care. The new Illinois law comes after states including Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Missouri made legislative moves to restrict access to abortion procedures.
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, expressed her disappointment in a statement after the bill was signed. Rezin described the law as extreme and said taking away rights of the unborn isn’t something that people should be celebrating.
Rezin said before the bill was signed that the topic is very emotional for everybody, as it should be. She said she has always been a pro-life official and she feels that the law goes far beyond reproductive rights in allowing late-term abortions.
“For me, it’s hard to grasp,” Rezin said. “Why anyone feels that we need to legalized late-term abortions and legalize abortions for sex selection reasons and partial birth abortions is beyond me, and that’s what that bill does.”
Rezin also said she is concerned about the bill potentially eliminating the requirement of parental notification if a minor wants to have an abortion. She said she thinks it’s important for families to be part of that discussion.
“If you’re a 13-year-old and minor, you need to have counseling, you need to have support from your family and have discussions about the gravity of your decision,” Rezin said.
Opponents also have said the law strikes other protections, including inspections of clinics where the procedure is done, penalties for illegally performed abortions, a lack of consent elements between couples disagreeing on the right course of action and the automatic autopsy of a woman who dies during an abortion.
Those who support the bill say it codifies current practices and removes parts of law enjoined by the courts.
Julie Lynn, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the new law updates aren’t outrageous and there isn’t anything that goes beyond medical care. She said no other health care service is more scrutinized than reproductive health, including abortion.
“It’s unfortunate that lies have been spread about med procedures that one in four women would have in their lifetime,” Lynn said.
So far this year, Lynn said, more than 200 patients with a Kendall County address have come into the Aurora clinic for services, which are not limited to abortion. She said 373 Kendall County patients came to the clinic in 2018.
State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield, said she will always support a woman’s right to choose, but she was hesitant to cast an official vote on the bill when the bill wasn’t expected to be called during session. She said there were a lot of changes to the bill over a weekend with there not being a lot of time to counter, and she felt it was such a sensitive issue that she didn’t feel like it was fair to cast her vote, given those circumstances.
“That was a very highly charged issue in my district,” Bertino-Tarrant said.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, sponsored the bill that was signed into law Wednesday, June 12. The legislation originally was introduced in February by Cassidy in the House and in the Senate by State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake. The twin bills were in limbo until early last month after calls for action came from advocates to pass a bill to counter recent anti-abortion laws passed by other states.
Cassidy said she felt very strongly and forcefully about protecting women’s bodily autonomy as much as the other side feels about challenging Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects an individual’s liberty to choose having an abortion and provides their right to privacy.
“I wanted us to respond as equally in defense of those rights and to make it clear that Illinois is not going to stand by and allow this to happen,” Cassidy said.