By Doug Finke
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday the Reproductive Health Act, which supporters said will guarantee abortion rights in Illinois should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
Surrounded by dozens of lawmakers and abortion rights advocates, Pritzker signed the controversial legislation that he said will ensure that Illinois is "going to be there for women if they have to be refugees from other states."
"In a time when too many states across the nation are taking a step backward, Illinois is taking a giant step forward for women's health," Pritzker said. "Today, we proudly proclaim that in this state, we trust women. And in Illinois, we guarantee as a fundamental right, a woman's right to choose."
Pritzker said the law simply codifies what was already case law in the state through a series of court decisions over the years.
However, pro-life groups that oppose the law said it goes far beyond that and have labeled the law "the nation's most extreme abortion expansion." The Susan B. Anthony List said the bill "is so radical (lawmakers) even went out of their way to repeal the state's ban on barbaric partial-birth abortions. Americans of every political persuasion are appalled by these attempts to expand abortion on demand through the moment of birth and even infanticide ..."
"This law is the most radical sweeping pro-abortion measure in America and makes Illinois an abortion destination for the country," said former state Rep. Peter Breen, a vice-president of the pro-life Thomas More Society.
So far this year, 17 states have passed laws restricting abortion rights. Pro-life groups hope the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that granted abortion rights to women.
"Today, with the signing of this bill, we are building a firewall around Illinois to protect reproductive health care for everyone, said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, a chief sponsor of the bill.
"We're sending a clear message that we trust women to make their decisions about their bodies," said Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, another key sponsor. "We believe that women should have the same autonomy over their bodies that men do."
In Illinois, fallout from passing the bill continued after the legislature adjourned. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese issued a decree barring Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan from receiving communion in Springfield area churches because they allowed the abortion rights bill to come to a vote.
(c)2019 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.