Illinois may expand abortion rights as other states restrict; Senate expected to vote Friday

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- The Illinois House endorsed expanded abortion protections as a half-dozen other states strive to restrict the procedure. Now, the Senate is expected to vote on it.

The new bill would remove restrictions on both abortions later in pregnancy and criminal penalties for physicians that perform them.

Repealing both the state's Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Illinois Abortion Act of 1975, it also would expand insurance coverage for procedures and contraception.

The plan won Illinois House approval Tuesday and Gov. J.B. Pritzker approved the bill's passage.

For many, it is a deeply personal matter.

Emily Lopez and her husband never thought they would have to make the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

"This was a very wanted pregnancy, we had been trying for years, gone through fertility treatment and finally out out we were pregnant," Lopez said.

But after genetic testing and ultrasounds, Lopez's baby was given a fatal diagnosis by several doctors. Facing multiple health issues, the baby would have been stillborn or died soon after birth.

"We decided we couldn't put our daughter through that, it would have been a very very short life and not a pleasant one," said Lopez.

The couple also did not want to put their son, who desperately wanted a sibling, through it. So, at 20 weeks pregnant, Lopez had an abortion.

"It was a very hard decision, I don't regret it but it was the worst descsion we had to make, but we made it together and we made it with our doctors," Lopez said.

For Lopez, the choice was a medical one- not a political issue.

As many states are passing laws restricting access to abortion, pro-life advocates believe abortion should not be a legal option, even when faced with Lopez's circumstances.

"What would be wrong with just giving her all kinds of emotional support until that baby is actually born in God's good time?" said Ann Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League.

Lopez feels differently.

"I feel like I was saving my child from a lifetime of pain, a short lifetime full of pain, it's not much different than taking someone off life support. I was her life support," said Lopez.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Friday.
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