State Watch

Illinois governor signs legislation protecting abortion rights

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) on Wednesday signed legislation to protect abortion rights

"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 in a statement.

"Illinois is demonstrating what it means to affirm the rights of individuals to make the most personal and fundamental decisions of their lives, no matter your income level, race, ethnicity or religion," he added. "When it comes to contraception, abortion, and reproductive care, this law puts the decision-making where it belongs: in the hands of women and their doctors."

The Reproductive Health Act, which is effective immediately, protects the "fundamental rights of individuals to make autonomous decisions about one's own reproductive health," including to continue a "pregnancy and give birth to a child, or to have an abortion." 

Its language states that a "fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the law of this State." 

The measure also repeals a 1975 state law that penalized doctors for abortions not considered "necessary." 

Pritzker in his statement said that the legislation "ensures that women's rights in Illinois do not hinge on the fate of Roe v. Wade, or the whims of an increasingly conservative Supreme Court."

The Illinois chapter of Planned Parenthood applauded the bill's signing.

"By signing the Reproductive Health Act into law today, Governor Pritzker has solidified his commitment to guaranteeing patients at Planned Parenthood, and other health care providers across the state, have the fundamental right to the full range of reproductive health care," said Planned Parenthood of Illinois President Jennifer Welch in the statement.

Pritzker's bill-signing event in Chicago garnered protesters who called the measure "horrific," according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The legislation in Illinois comes as Republican-led states move to curb abortion rights. Several states have passed laws that will ban abortions six weeks into pregnancy, and Alabama passed a law that will ban nearly all abortions.

Pritzker on Twitter slammed those states' abortion bans.

"Abortion bans don't ban abortion," he wrote on Wednesday. "They just endanger women - and none more than rural women, poor women, young women and women of color. It's wrong, and here in Illinois we reject it."

Updated at 2:22 p.m.

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