Politics & Policy

Illinois House Passes Bill Repealing Partial-Birth-Abortion Ban

Protesters outside the Alabama State Capitol hold signs against the state’s new abortion law, May 19, 2019. (Michael Spooneybarger/Reuters)

The Illinois House on Tuesday passed a bill that would repeal the state’s previous partial-birth-abortion ban and require that insurance providers cover contraception and abortion services.

The Reproductive Health Act, which passed 64–50, removes virtually all restrictions on late-term abortions and the penalties currently imposed on doctors who perform them. The legislation must now receive majority support in the state Senate before it can be signed into law.

The bill’s proponents have argued that the legislation codifies existing practice and is necessary in light of the recent passage of restrictive abortion laws in a number of Republican-controlled states, as well as the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which many pro-choice activists are concerned might overturn Roe v. Wade.

“RHA codifies our existing practices and — and this is critical — treats abortion care just like any other health care, because it is,” said the bill’s sponsor, state representative Kelly Cassidy (D., Chicago). “Make no mistake, it doesn’t end here. Since Roe was decided in 1973, our opponents have fought to impede access to care and these efforts have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable population.”

Illinois Republican party chairman Tim Schneider said the legislation was reflective of the Democratic party’s recent embrace of abortion extremism.

“In just a few short years, the Democrat party in Illinois went from advocating ‘safe, legal and rare’ to abortion on-demand, at any time, for any reason, and funded by taxpayers,” he said in a statement. “This is not the typical pro-life vs. pro-choice debate I have been accustomed to in my lifetime. The RHA goes much further.”

Six states have passed increased restrictions on abortions in recent weeks.

Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law earlier this month, effectively banning the practice entirely, including in cases of rape and incest. Ivey admitted that the law is likely unenforceable but argued it was important step toward overturning Roe V. Wade via the courts.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp also recently signed a law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs around six weeks. And the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri is about to be shuttered by state authorities who have refused to renew its license as they prepare to implement similarly restrictive legislation.

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