Illinois abortion law guarantees abortion rights despite overturn of Roe v. Wade
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois officials stood firm in defense of women's reproductive rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday.
Governor JB Pritzker promised the state would remain a "safe haven" for women's reproductive rights, and called a special session of the General Assembly to further expand and protect those rights in the state.
The Supreme Court's ruling does not end legal abortion in Illinois. The state has a law in place, signed in 2019, to keep abortion legal even if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
At a press conference Friday morning at Howard Brown Health, Governor Pritzker called the Supreme Court decision "abhorrent" and said Illinois would be a "safe haven" for women seeking an abortion.
Pritzker: Abortion ruling 'abhorrent'
"I was around when Roe v. Wade was passed. And yeah, I'm one of those one in four women who has had an abortion," said State Senator Melinda Bush (D-31st District). "And I can tell you, they are coming for our rights."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised the city would be an "oasis" and "beacon" for women seeking abortions, and said the city is setting aside $500,000 to help providers cover the costs for out-of-state patients, including travel and other expenses.
Illinois abortion rights are unlikely to be affected by the Supreme Court's ruling but Illinois is surrounded on all sides by states that are expected to either immediately ban abortion or do so quickly.
"This opinion doesn't really change too much in Illinois; our rules are among the most permissive in the country. We, by law, permit abortion and it's going to stay that way," said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer. "There's nothing in this decision that criminalizes abortion, it leaves every state free to decide whether to criminalize abortion. Illinois clearly decided not to."
For many women who have had abortions, Friday's ruling was particularly painful. That includes Kim Foxx.
Foxx's story spans three generations, starting with her mother.
"My mother had a self-induced abortion before Roe was the law of the land by drinking turpentine to terminate a pregnancy that she didn't want," she said.
By the time she had even heard her mother's story, the law of the land had changed.
"She was unbelievably grateful that Roe was the law of the land, that should I need to make that decision, I would not have to hurt myself, that's how she told me, as a means of ensuring that I had bodily autonomy and I had choices," Foxx said.
Foxx herself faced that choice in 1994 when she was a college senior. She was a month from graduating when she faced the choice to have an abortion.
"I wouldn't be in this seat right now if I were forced to continue with a pregnancy I wasn't ready for," she said. "I didn't have a job. I didn't have my own housing. I didn't have access to care, not just for myself, but for a baby. And that's what we're talking about."
After Friday's ruling, Foxx said she wanted to speak out and take the stigma away from having an abortion. And, like her mother, she talked to her daughters about it today. It was a very different conversation.
"Now I sit here as a mother of four teenage girls who that protection isn't guaranteed for them, so I'm angry, I'm heartbroken, and this a day that should activate many," she said.
The majority decision written by Justice Samuel Alito clearly stated other rights based on similar legal reasoning to Roe v. Wade are not in jeopardy, stating in part, "we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right."
"Today is a momentous day for human rights in America. Today thousands of children and their families are protected from the violence of abortion," said Anna Kinskey, associate director of March for Life Chicago.
But a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas seemed to contradict that.
"The concurring opinion of Justice Thomas suggest something different," Soffer explained. "Justice Thomas says we really need to re-examine those other decisions, decisions that protect the right to gay marriage, the right to contraception and other decisions that emanate from the right to privacy."
In a statement, Governor Pritzker said, "In Illinois, we trust women. Despite the action of the Supreme Court today overturning Roe v. Wade, the right to safe, accessible reproductive health care is in full force in Illinois - and will remain so.
"In Illinois, we've planned for this terrible day, an enormous step backward and a shattering loss of rights. We passed the Reproductive Health Act, enshrining choice as the law of the land in Illinois. We removed the trigger law that would have prohibited abortion in Illinois with the overturning of Roe v Wade. We expanded health care so that finances are not a barrier to receiving reproductive care.
"In Illinois, we are a state committed to expanding access to reproductive health care including abortion care, contraception access, fertility treatment and gender affirming care. We've made it clear that we trust people to make the best decisions for themselves about their own reproductive health.
"In Illinois, we will hold firm to these rights and continue to work with stakeholders to expand them. To that end, I am calling the General Assembly into special session in the coming weeks, with the support and consultation of House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch and Senate President Don Harmon. Together, we are committed to taking swift action to further enshrine our commitment to reproductive health care rights and protections."
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement saying, "It's a dark day in America for people who care about civil rights and equal justice under the law. The Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark legislation that has paved the way for people in need of reproductive care to access safe abortions for the past 50 years, is unfathomable and devastating.
"Make no mistake: this decision will be used as precedent to gut the legal underpinnings used to protect against gender-based discrimination, which includes women's rights, trans rights, immigrant rights, and of course, the right to same sex and interracial marriage.
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"Justice and freedom are core tenets of our American democracy, and as public and private institutions, we have a responsibility to protect and advance these tenets in partnership with the communities we serve. As a part of Chicago's 'Justice for All' pledge, we promise that here in Chicago, we will continue to fight to protect the right to choose-no matter what the Supreme Court says or what other surrounding states do. That is why I made a down payment of $500,000 to increase access to reproductive healthcare for Chicagoans and all patients seeking care across the region and the United States.
"We cannot and will not let this setback be a lasting defeat."
Senator Dick Durbin said the Senate Jusiciary Committee will hold a hearing to examine post-Roe America.
US Representative Rodney Davis issued a statement saying,"This is a historic and incredible day for Life and the unborn in America, a day that all of us in the pro-life movement have been praying for and working towards. The Supreme Court was absolutely right to overturn previous, wrongly-decided abortion decisions. Nothing in the Constitution confers the right to an abortion. As a pro-life lawmaker with a 100 percent pro-life voting record, I have advocated for years that the Court overturn Roe.
"Now that the Supreme Court has turned this issue over to the people's elected representatives, our pro-life work continues. We must elect pro-life leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure we advance pro-life policies and protect the unborn. Nowhere is this more important than the State of Illinois, where J.B. Pritzker and Democrats in Springfield have advanced an extreme abortion expansion agenda that legalized taxpayer-funded, late-term abortions, and even restricted parents' abilities to know if their minor child is seeking an abortion. This is an extreme abortion agenda that is out-of-step with the people of Illinois. I will continue to work tirelessly to advance pro-life policies and protect the unborn in Washington and in Springfield."
Congressman Mike Quigley said, "Today's decision is a shocking reversal of a half century of settled law on women's rights. At least two Supreme Court judges lied to the Senate about their intention to keep Roe in place and have now ensured that Republican legislatures across the country have control over women's bodies.
"This decision will cost lives. Overturning Roe does not mean that there won't be abortions. It simply means that in many states, there won't be safe abortions.
"Thankfully, Democrats in Illinois have safeguarded access to abortion care in our state and have taken steps to protect women who come from other regions to seek abortions. We will not go back.
"Overturning Roe is nothing short of shameful. It is also a warning to all of us: this Supreme Court will not shy away from stripping rights away from our citizenry. We must do everything in our power now to protect equal marriage, access to birth control, and more of the rights we thought were settled law."
Other organizations in Illinois have issued statements about the Supreme Court decision.
Ameri, Klafeta, director of the Women's and Reproductive Rights Project at the ACLU of Illinois, issued a statement saying, " "This Supreme Court this morning recklessly stripped the constitutional right to abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade from millions of people in this country. People in nearly half of the states across the country are likely to lose the right to make fundamental decisions over their own body very soon. This is cruel and will disproportionately impact people of color and those economically disadvantaged.
"Abortion remains safe and legal in Illinois - that message needs to be heard all across the state. Clinics that provide abortion in this state will remain open and patients can make appointments. Nothing that the Court has done today reverses the hard work done by advocates in Illinois and legislators in Springfield over the past few years to assure that each person in Illinois has the right to make their own health care decisions, including abortion.
"Abortion is health care. And we stand ready to protect access to abortion in Illinois."
Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a statement, "Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturns the court's tragic 1973 decision that removed legal protection for unborn children. We welcome this important ruling and the opportunity it creates for a national conversation on protecting human life in the womb and promoting human dignity at all stages of life. This moment should serve as a turning point in our dialogue about the place an unborn child holds in our nation, about our responsibility to listen to women and support them through pregnancies and after the birth of their children, and about the need to refocus our national priorities to support families, particularly those in need.
"The Catholic Church brings to such a conversation the conviction that every human life is sacred, that every person is made in the image and likeness of God and therefore deserving of reverence and protection. That belief is the reason the Catholic Church is the country's largest provider of social services, many aimed at eliminating the systemic poverty and health care insecurity that trap families in a cycle of hopelessness and limit authentic choice.
"We also come to this dialogue as Americans, knowing that the principle that all human beings are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, and that first among these is the right to life.
"Make no mistake, because this ruling regrettably will have little impact on abortion in Illinois, as there are virtually no restrictions here, we will continue to advocate strongly for legal protections for unborn children. And we will redouble our efforts to work with all to build a culture that values the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.
"This ruling is not the end of a journey, but rather a fresh start. It underscores the need to understand those who disagree with us, and to inculcate an ethic of dialogue and cooperation. Let us begin by examining our national conscience, taking stock of those dark places in our society and in our hearts that turn to violence and deny the humanity of our brothers and sisters, and get to work building up the common good by choosing life."
Bishop Ronald A. Hicks of the Diocese of Joliet issued a statement saying, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision issued today in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion across the country. Today's decision is an answer to decades of prayer and upholds the protection of the most innocent of all human life - the child in the mother's womb - which has long been a tenet of Catholic social teaching. I celebrate this ruling yet mourn the fact that here, in our home state of Illinois, it will have no immediate impact given the state's 2019 enshrinement into law of abortion as a misguided fundamental right. Perhaps the court's ruling and recent public conversations, coupled with our own prayers, will stir within the hearts, minds and souls of our elected political leaders a greater respect for the beauty and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. I ask that you join me in earnest and fervent prayer for not only the conversion of those in civic leadership, but for those in our own homes, families and communities who need the light of Christ to see clearly how all are made in the image and likeness of God.
"I also ask that you support Walking with Moms in Need, an initiative of the U.S. bishops to aid and encourage women facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies. Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has urged us to embrace the "culture of encounter" by pausing, meeting with, and accompanying those in need on their journey. What is a more promising example of such an encounter than expectant and new moms and their babies?
"Finally, I implore all to receive today's ruling with peace toward their neighbors and animus toward none. We are all called to see the face of God in our neighbor, regardless of any strong disagreements on issues as significant as the sanctity of life. As a missionary people seeking to draw others into an encounter with the risen Lord, how we react to the court's ruling or any other matter of political, moral or social concern can leave a lasting impression upon others as to what it means to follow Christ. We must always speak the truth in charity and be willing to accompany one another in patience, humility and gentleness. Through the peace we extend others, the goodness of our God will surely shine through."