IL Democrats denounce potential abortion rollback while Republicans celebrate

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 8:00 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois leaders are reacting to the leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. While this document isn’t the official decision, many speculate the court’s ruling will allow state legislatures to decide the future of abortion rights for their citizens in June. Illinois Democrats say they are devastated and appalled by the court’s possible decision, but Republicans are celebrating the possibility of eliminating abortion rights.

Gov. JB Pritzker said he will “fight like hell” to defend abortion in Illinois. Although, some Republicans claim they are praying for lives that could be saved across the country when the Supreme Court decision is official.

“No matter what atrocious opinion the Supreme Court officially rolls out this summer in regards to Roe v. Wade, abortion is safe and legal in Illinois,” Pritzker said.

The Reproductive Health Care Act solidified fundamental rights for abortion and maternal health care for Illinoisans in 2019. Democratic lawmakers then repealed the Parental Notification of Abortion law last year to protect minors from having to tell family members or abusers that they want an abortion after rape, incest, or domestic abuse.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) explained many privacy rights are at risk due to the upcoming Roe decision. The document obtained by Politico specifically named decisions on birth control, interracial marriage, and marriage equality.

“They’ve given us their roadmap. I feel like my life and my family’s life is teetering at the top of a Jenga tower that we’re watching crash in real-time,” Cassidy said. “My marriage, my children’s relationship with their other mother, my right to bodily autonomy, is all in the crosshairs.”

As of Tuesday, 23 states would institute bans on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Meanwhile, 13 other states have “trigger laws” where abortion will be outlawed when the Supreme Court decision is official. Ironically, former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 40 in 2017, repealing the “trigger” provision in Illinois statute to ensure abortion would never become illegal if Roe was reversed.

“No woman should be forced to make a different decision than another woman made purely based on her income,” Rauner said on September 28, 2017.

Tuesday, Cassidy said state lawmakers should do everything in their power to welcome people who come to Illinois for abortions. Her close colleague and fellow co-sponsor of pro-choice legislation, Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), said she couldn’t believe lawmakers had to hold a press conference about the issue in 2022. She noted that no Republicans voted with Democrats to protect a woman’s right to health care in 2019.

“In Illinois, we goddamn trust women to make their own decisions about their bodies. This is about bodily autonomy,” Bush said. “No one, other than the woman herself, has the right to make those decisions.”

Republicans hoping to lead the state, like Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), say the abortion laws in Illinois are too extreme. Bailey was recently endorsed by all of the anti-abortion groups in the state and says he would restore parental notification and end taxpayer-funded abortion.

“I understand what we can and cannot accomplish with the Democrats currently holding the supermajority,” Bailey said. “But I will always stand up to promote policies that support women and protect life.”

Still, Pritzker says Bailey is opposed to women’s rights and will take away a woman’s right to choose.

Other Republican candidates rejoiced when they heard the court may overturn Roe v. Wade. Jesse Sullivan said that his family dropped to their knees to say a prayer in gratitude for the lives that can be saved.

“Then we said the pledge of allegiance,” Sullivan said. “The flag looks different after this ruling - it shines even brighter.”

Businessman Gary Rabine said Roe v. Wade has allowed for the murder of thousands of unborn children.

“I am unapologetically pro-life, and I welcome the court’s reversal of this long-standing precedent,” Rabine said. “We must, as a state and a country, do all we can to protect the rights of the unborn.”

But Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton (D-Illinois) argues the decision would dictate who gets to choose what life looks like and what quality of life should be.

“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will only be the beginning of a dark reality where states across the nation will try to see just how far they can push back the clock and how many rights they can strip away,” Stratton said.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is also furious but not surprised by the highest court’s early decision. President and CEO Jennifer Welch said Illinois has been preparing for the ruling for years and Planned Parenthood will continue to ensure every patient has access to necessary health care, no matter where they live.

“We are proud to say that abortion is still safe and legal in Illinois,” Welch said. “This is a devastating blow for the millions of people who will suddenly find themselves in an abortion desert; facing a daunting dilemma - travel hundreds of miles to access an abortion, seek an illegal alternative or carry a pregnancy to term against their will. We will continue to fight so that everyone can access the fundamental reproductive health care they need and deserve — no matter what.”

Meanwhile, many Republicans and anti-abortion organizations seem more upset by the fact the draft opinion was leaked to the press. Illinois Right to Life Executive Director Amy Gehrke said the leak was an egregious act that threatens the function of the court.

“Every abortion brutally takes the life of a preborn child and puts that child’s mother at extreme risk for both emotional and physical harm,” Gehrke said. “The focus of Illinois Right to Life will remain on restoring protection to the most vulnerable in our state as well as ensuring their mothers have the resources they need to choose life as well as parent confidently.”

GOP gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin was noticeably silent over the past 24 hours. Irvin’s campaign says he won’t comment on the issue until after the Supreme Court decision is final. Still, there is heavy speculation Republican insiders funding Irvin’s campaign don’t want him to speak on the issue due to his previous record as a Democrat.

Congresswoman Robyn Kelly, Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, said this fight is far from over. She noted Democrats will do everything in their power to protect the right to choose from “Illinois Republicans dead-set on following the extremist playbook from their colleagues in states like Missouri, Kentucky, and Texas.”

“With seats on Illinois’ Supreme Court on the ballot this November, along with statewide officeholders, federal representatives, and our state legislature, the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and our work ahead, could not be clearer,” Kelly said.

Pritzker also gave a stark warning to voters Tuesday that there is no assurance that Illinois will always be a pro-choice state.

“If the wrong people are elected to office - if people who are against women’s rights get elected to office, if the legislature turns Republican or the governorship turns Republican - we will end up being an anti-choice state,” Pritzker said. “It’s almost hard to believe.”

The leaders of both chambers stood alongside the large group of Democratic women and men demanding action Tuesday morning. Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said the Republican party continues to disregard the will of the people. He noted that the GOP tried to overturn the 2020 election, refused to seat a nominated Supreme Court justice, and passed laws across the country to limit the right to vote.

“This is the most extreme example yet of the Republicans ignoring the will of the people,” Harmon said. “As long as there’s a Democratic majority in the Illinois State Senate, women will have their rights protected.”

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) said personal health care decisions should not be in the hands of politicians. He urged people to understand that everyone needs to vote like their lives depend on it.

“Truly, we have the power to change this because this conservative-packed court has proven that we actually have to be the ones to lead this movement,” Welch said. “It’s a dark day today but the sun will shine again because we will march, because we will vote. We will vote at the ballot box. We will vote with our pocketbooks.”

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