Illinois will provide legal protection to the swell of out-of-state residents seeking abortion care in the state since Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to a law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday, days after it was passed by Democrats in the state legislature. .
The law also expands the number of health practitioners who can provide certain types of abortions; requires Illinois public entities to cover abortion, sex confirmation, and HIV prevention medications as part of health insurance; It sets legal standards to ensure parental autonomy in reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
“Reproductive care is health care,” Pritzker said Friday at the bill signing ceremony in Chicago. A medical decision must be made between the patient and the healthcare provider, and no one else. Everyone, regardless of gender, gender, ethnicity, or economic status, has the right to privacy and bodily autonomy. And when people come to Illinois to exercise those rights, they will be welcomed and protected. This is what this historical law represents.”
Pritzker said the “war” is being “waged on women’s bodies by fanatics on the right”.
With its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in June, the US Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 with Roe, thus leaving the regulation of abortions to states.
At least a dozen states now have near-total bans on abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive care policies — though the group expects that number to double pending more judicial and legislative action.
Lambda Attorney Kara Englehart said Arkansas and Alabama are among states that have “ugly laws” that “threatened to reach across state lines and affect Illinois families and health care providers. But with the new law (HB4664/Public Law 102-1117), she said Illinois is now a “safe haven”.
The law seeks to protect abortion patients and providers for activity in Illinois from potential retaliation by states where abortion is illegal. The law mandates that Illinois will not comply with criminal and civil subpoenas, subpoenas, or extradition requests related to reproductive care or gender confirmation.
The bill also prohibits a person from using Illinois’ wrongful death statute to assert a legal claim associated with legal abortion and states that health care providers, hospitals and other medical facilities cannot be penalized for providing abortions or related reproductive services.
“People are forced to travel thousands of miles to receive medical care,” said Illinois House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch. Miscarriage and atopic pregnancy have turned into life-threatening experiences. Young girls are forced to bear children of their abusers. This is just wrong.”
State Republican Rep. Adam Nemmerg of Dietrich called the plan “brutal” and said in a statement that providing immunity in wrongful-death lawsuits and allowing “unqualified medical personnel” to perform abortions is dangerous.
“It doesn’t appear that there are any restrictions on abortion that the majority party would ever endorse,” Niemerg said. “This legislation goes much further than just allowing abortion to be legal in Illinois. Leaders in the House and Senate are actively promoting abortion and even taking the extreme position of providing legal immunity to abortion providers. The message we send to abortion providers is that it doesn’t matter what kind of penalties you have imposed. Other states are against you, and if a woman dies in your care, you cannot be sued.”
Republicans and anti-abortion groups fought back, with former GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey calling him “evil.”
“It is shameful that the Illinois legislature continues to circumvent the democratic process by passing comprehensive abortion legislation in this manner,” Illinois Right to Life director Mary-Kate Zander said in a press release. This process was completely lacking in transparency and provided no time or opportunity for feedback from the public. From my point of view, this is a saying. They know their constituents don’t support this trash law.”
The law seeks to relieve pressure on abortion providers struggling to keep up with the influx of patients seeking abortion shelter in Illinois by allowing more health care professionals to perform abortions.
Advanced practice nurses and physician assistants in Illinois with the appropriate training are now allowed to perform vacuum abortions (or aspiration), the most common type of abortion in the clinic, as long as general anesthesia is not required for the procedure.
In order to better facilitate health care providers from Wisconsin, Missouri and other neighboring states to provide abortion services in Illinois, the state licensing agency will offer a fast-track to temporary licensure for professionals who wish to provide abortion care in Illinois and via telehealth.
Also in an effort to expand care, birthing centers that currently focus on childbirth will be able to provide a full range of reproductive care, and the Illinois Department of Public Health will offer grants for training in abortion services.
“With the passage of the Patient and Provider Protection Act, Illinois is once again taking responsibility for removing stigma, protecting the right to basic reproductive health care, and caring for people who need access to that care, no matter who they are or where they are,” said Chicago Abortion Fund director Megan Giveaux. “Abortion care, gender affirmation care, assisted reproduction, getting contraceptives, getting a PAP and PrEP—all health care that should be free of stigma and decriminalization and accessible to all. That is the commitment this legislation makes to our most vulnerable communities.” .
Other provisions expand patient access to medications and other treatments.
The law requires local government employers (including schools) to offer insurance plans that cover contraception, abortion, HIV/PEP/PrEP prevention medication, and gender affirmation care. The law also states that these drugs must not be tolerated by the consumer.
The inclusion of gender-affirming medicine has been a touchpoint for critics but a cornerstone for supporters, including Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago.
Ingelhart of Lambda Legal said there is an “intrinsic and unbreakable link between reproductive freedom and LBGTQ+ rights”. “Neither can be adequately defended or advanced without the other.”
Insurance companies cannot charge a higher fee if a patient must receive out-of-network care because an in-network health care provider refuses to provide an abortion or other care, citing moral objections under Illinois’ Right of Conscience to Health Care Act.
In signing the bill on Friday, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul committed to using “every legal tool we have to defend bodily independence.”
“As Illinois’ provider and support networks intensify, anti-choice states seek to extend their regressive policies beyond their borders,” said Raoul. They want to ignore our sovereignty and pass laws that will allow them to reach Illinois and sow fear, curb access to abortion and punish patients and caregivers. No healthcare provider should fear losing their license to provide safe and lawful medical services, and no one should fear that their healthcare information may be weaponized against them.”
The signing of the law comes after six months of negotiations.
On June 24, when Dobbs’ decision was announced, Pritzker promised to call a special session within weeks to enshrine abortion protections in state law. Instead, it didn’t happen until half a year later. Supporters said they need time to formulate a plan and weave through the ever-changing legal complexities.
Raoult predicted that states that have outlawed abortion will also move to limit access to HIV treatment, gender confirmation care, and other “attacks.”
Rep. Cassidy said Illinois must be prepared to take action in the future.
“We’re going to have to respond to the new ways that bully states will come up with to attack patients and providers,” Cassidy said. “We must continue to build our fighting capacity to meet the demands of care in both reproductive and gender-affirming care settings. We must continue to seek solutions to protect the privacy of patients and providers by examining and retaining data privacy laws.”
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