IL House Votes to Expand Abortion Access as Hundreds of Women March on Springfield

The Illinois House yesterday voted 62-55 in favor of access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion. The vote on HB 40 came on the same day as the Illinois Women March on Springfield where over a thousand women turned out in support of a large progressive agenda that included women’s equality, immigration, homelessness, criminal legal reform, the environment, LGBTQ rights, healthcare, disability rights, economics, education, and more.

HB 40 would end discriminatory restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion care for state employees and people who rely on Medicaid. The bill would also remove a “trigger provision” in Illinois law that would protect legal abortion if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned, a growing concern after the addition of anti-reproductive-rights judge Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court.

Many in the crowd on Tuesday expressed outrage at Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner who has promised to veto HB 40 when it reaches his desk. Protesters held signs saying “Keep Abortion Safe and Legal” and “Her Body, Her Choice.” On the street facing Rauner’s office, protesters wrote, “Gov, do your job.”

“There’s a tide, and it’s a regressive one when it comes to women, ” said State Representative Sarah Feigenholtz, HB 40’s lead sponsor in the House. “We have to fight back as Illinois lawmakers and say Illinois is not going back, it will only go forward with women and continue to give them choices, whether it’s reproductive health or anything else.”

The House vote in Illinois is a positive step toward ensuring that no one is denied access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion, because of where she lives, where she works, or how she obtains her insurance.

At the federal level, earlier this year, Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act alongside House Pro-Choice Caucus Chairs Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY). The EACH Woman Act would end federal restrictions on abortion coverage for those who receive health insurance through the federal government, including those on Medicaid, and prohibit federal, state, and local governments from passing laws to restrict private health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage.

Restrictions on abortion coverage particularly impacts women of color and forces one in four poor women seeking an abortion to carry their pregnancies to term. Studies show that women who seek abortion but are denied are more likely to fall deeper into poverty than women who are able to obtain an abortion.

Media Resources: The State Journal Register 4/26/17; Chicago Tribune 4/25/17; Feminist Newswire 1/31/17


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