Jun 27, 2022 - News

Pritzker calls special session on abortion

Governor marching at a protest

Gov. J.B. Pritzker marches with protesters downtown on Friday night. Photo: Natasha Moustache/Getty Images

In response to last week's Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has called a special session of the General Assembly to address abortion in Illinois.

Why it matters: As states around the country mobilize to ban abortions, Illinois lawmakers want to make the state one of the strongest for reproductive rights.

Context: In 2019, Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act, which classifies abortion as a "fundamental right" in the state. But it stopped short on key items, including funding.

  • Planned Parenthood of Illinois wants the state to catch up to Oregon, New York and California on funding and access to care.
  • Only 11 out of 102 counties have an abortion provider.
  • "Illinois has the capacity to truly be a safe haven to everyone who needs access to abortion," Planned Parenthood of Illinois vice president of public policy Brigid Leahy tells Axios. If you look at southern Illinois and western Illinois, there are no abortion providers."

State of play: With Democrats leading both the house and the senate, the state is poised to strengthen the act by allocating funds and incentives for health care providers to relocate from more restrictive states.

What they're saying: "The special session is an opportunity for us to go beyond the protections of the firewall the RHA and other laws provide in Illinois," Democratic state Rep. Kelly Cassidy tells Axios.

  • "We need to enact meaningful protections for patients and providers forced to flee their home states to access reproductive health care and gender-affirming care. We also need to meet the demand by ensuring out-of-state providers can bring their skills and licenses here, and that providers have the resources to support those patients."

The other side: Republican leaders were quick to object, but they're in the minority in both chambers.

  • "Right now, Illinoisans can already get an abortion in all nine months of pregnancy for any reason and use taxpayer dollars to pay for it. But that’s not enough." Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie said in a statement.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot supports the special session and has a strong message for people in need of abortion services who live elsewhere.

  • "Come to Chicago. We will protect you."

What's next: The General Assembly could be called back into session after the Fourth of July.


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