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Raoul participates in vice president’s roundtable discussion on reproductive rights

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul discusses the work his office has done to protect a...
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul discusses the work his office has done to protect a woman's right to make reproductive health decisions in Illinois.(Lawrence Jackson, Director of Photography, Office of the Vice President)
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:08 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about reproductive rights Thursday with a group of Democratic attorneys general at the White House. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul was one of the officials invited to participate in the timely discussion, with the U.S. Supreme Court expected to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, and California Deputy Attorney General Venus Johnson joined Raoul and Harris in person. Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson participated in the discussion virtually.

“I appreciate the opportunity to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and some of my colleagues to discuss the critical need for women around the country to have the right to make their own reproductive health decisions,” Raoul said. “The decision to seek an abortion is highly personal and can be based on a number of factors – all of which are between a woman and her health care provider.”

Harris said attorneys general need to prioritize the health, well-being, and safety of women in their states. She noted that conservative state lawmakers across the country have restricted reproductive rights and the Supreme Court is expecting to make a historic decision on a woman’s right to choose soon.

She said state attorneys general may have the power to issue guidance so people in their states know their rights. The top prosecutors also have the power to assess and potentially challenge the constitutionality of anti-abortion laws passed in their states.

“I urge the people of our country to know the power that they have to have an impact on how the laws of their state are enforced by paying attention to who their attorney general is and where they stand on this important issue,” Harris said.

Harris said the attorney general is elected in 43 states across the country. She also explained attorneys general can work with legal organizations and nonprofit law firms to offer pro bono services for people impacted by anti-abortion laws.

The WGEM News Illinois Capitol Bureau was unable to hear what Raoul said during the roundtable discussion because the White House did not provide access to the full discussion.

The Illinois attorney general’s office released new guidance about the state’s legal protections for abortions on June 1. Raoul’s team created a free online resource for people to understand their reproductive rights. Raoul also sent a letter to law enforcement to clarify that Illinois law does not criminalize abortion.

Raoul also told Harris about his efforts to clarify and expand safeguards under Illinois law to ensure that women and providers are protected from those who could use the Supreme Court decision to obstruct access to abortion care. He said it is important that women know that Illinois will protect their rights regardless of the Supreme Court decision.

“Illinois is a reproductive health oasis, and I assured the Vice President that we will proudly remain so, as many of our neighboring states have enacted draconian policies to limit or take away a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and future,” Raoul said. “I remain absolutely committed to defending protections in current Illinois law and working to ensure that state law explicitly protects women and providers as we prepare to meet the need for increased abortion care in Illinois.”

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