House Progressive Caucus calls for Reproductive Health Act
In face of new abortion laws, ‘Illinois must respond in kind with equal energy behind defending reproductive freedom,’ says Rep. Cassidy
By Ted Cox
The Illinois House Progressive Caucus came out strongly in favor of strengthening reproductive rights Thursday at a Capitol news conference.
In the face of new abortion restrictions in states across the nation, but especially with near-bans recently passed in Alabama and Georgia, members of the caucus came out strongly in support of House Bill 2495, the Reproductive Health Act, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Chicago.
“We knew it was critically important, but events of the last several weeks have really upped the ante,” Cassidy said. “As opponents of reproductive freedom have stepped up their attacks on our access to reproductive health care, it has become very, very clear that Illinois must respond in kind with equal energy behind defending reproductive freedom, and that’s exactly what the RHA will do.”
“Illinois must respond in kind with equal energy behind defending reproductive freedom.”
Rep. Kelly Cassidy (Blue Room Stream)
According to Cassidy, the bill deletes state statutes that had never been enforced due to court decisions, but that could be revived if Roe were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, including provisions calling for the prosecution of physicians, waiting periods, and spousal consent.
“We’re deleting those provisions from our statutes,” she said. “We are also restating very clearly that Illinois is protecting access to reproductive freedom for its citizens.”
Cassidy wore a necklace with a gold wire-hanger pendant she said was given to her 30 years ago by her boss at the National Organization for Women, Sue Purrginton, “to welcome me to the movement.” She said she was wearing it in memory of all the colleagues she’d worked with for women’s rights over the decades, adding, “It’s a reminder of what can happen in a post-Roe world.”
The caucus backed that with a statement saying: “At this moment of unprecedented attacks on reproductive rights across the country and the imminent threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court, Illinois must continue to be a leader in protecting women’s health. That’s why passing the Reproductive Health Act is so important. Right now, there are a number of punitive anti-choice laws on the books in Illinois that are only blocked from enforcement because of Roe. We must remove those laws from the statute books to protect women even if that decision should be reversed.”
“We want to have a vote on this issue,” said Rep. Carol Ammons of Champaign-Urbana, co-chairwoman of the caucus.
According to Cassidy, House Speaker Michael Madigan has pledged to “move the bill forward.”
Ammons also backed a bill that would provide relief for more than 50,000 state residents who have lost their driver’s licenses due to non-moving violations such as parking tickets and other fees and fines, stating that that ironically prevented many workers from being able to drive to their jobs in order to make the money to pay those fines. She spoke in favor of a bill enforcing coal-ash cleanups as well.
Rep. Theresa Mah of Chicago, caucus co-chairwoman, spoke in favor a bill protecting immigrant renters from abusive landlords. And Rep. Will Guzzardi of Chicago, co-chairman, joined housing advocates in calling for $1 billion to be set aside in a proposed $41.5 billion capital bill to provide affordable housing.