Illinois law expands abortion rights for women


A new Illinois law makes abortion a fundamental right and requires insurers to pay for the procedure as they would any other medical procedure.

The Illinois Reproductive Health Act repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975 and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, two restrictive laws that have been largely blocked from enforcement for years by the courts. The replacement law removes criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions, eliminates waiting periods before women can receive an abortion, and lifts a requirement that married women receive spousal consent before obtaining the procedure. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) signed the law on June 12.

“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,” Gov. 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. 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.”

As part of the law, private health insurance plans in Illinois are required to cover abortion. Previously, the plans were mandated to cover only contraception, infertility treatments, and maternity care. The law also states that a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under Illinois law.

The law comes as states across the country are enacting more restrictive abortion measures. Recent laws in six states – Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio – bar abortions after a heartbeat is detected. A measure in Alabama meanwhile, prohibits abortion at every pregnancy stage and penalizes physicians with a Class A felony for performing an abortion and a Class C felony for attempting to perform an abortion. Analysts say those laws will likely lead to a review of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court later this year.

Also in June, the Department Health & Human Services said scientists are no longer allowed to use fetal tissue from abortions in research. In a statement, the agency said the decision comes amid a comprehensive review of all HHS research involving human fetal tissue from elective abortions to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations governing such research. The ban on fetal tissue research led to the cancellation of an existing HIV research contract between the federal government and the University of California, San Francisco, according to HHS.

“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” according to an HHS statement. “The audit and review helped inform the policy process that led to the administration’s decision to let the contract with UCSF expire and to discontinue intramural research – research conducted within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – involving the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortion. Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted.”

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