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Illinois Should Protect Reproductive Rights

Legislators Need to Ensure Access to Safe, Legal Abortion Care for All

 People rally downtown for the Second Annual Women's March on January 20, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. © 2018 Scott Olson/Getty Images

I had an abortion in the US state of Illinois as a young woman. I had support from friends and family, and I was able to access timely, compassionate care from a clinic 20 minutes from my home. I was treated with dignity and respect. It was the kind of abortion experience everyone should be able to have.

But too many people in the US face difficult, and sometimes insurmountable, barriers accessing abortion care, which is why people across the country are joining the Rally for Abortion Justice on October 2. I’ll be proudly participating in downtown Chicago.

Recently, an extreme abortion ban took effect in Texas, prohibiting nearly all abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. Under the law, anyone can go to Texas courts to sue someone who provides, or “aids or abets” an abortion in the state.

Radical anti-abortion legislators in Florida and other states have already moved to introduce copycat legislation. The Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case concerning a Mississippi abortion restriction that could overturn the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing a constitutional right to access abortion.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Global Justice Center submitted a friend of the court brief arguing that the United States’ international human rights obligations require the US to provide abortion access.

Even in Illinois, where abortion is relatively accessible, a harmful law threatens young people’s health and safety, and delays or prevents their accessing care. The Parental Notice of Abortion Act requires anyone under 18 to involve an adult family member in an abortion.

The vast majority of young people involve a parent or other trusted adult in their abortion decision. Those who do not – often because they fear abuse or being kicked out – have to obtain a judge’s permission to get an abortion, through a stressful and even traumatizing court process. Human Rights Watch and the ACLU of Illinois published a report on the devastating impact of the law.

Illinois legislators have a chance to repeal the law this month during the veto session.

The fight for abortion rights has arguably never been more urgent.

That’s why I’m marching this weekend, because unlike lawmakers in Texas and Florida pushing extreme and discriminatory anti-abortion policies, Illinois legislators can – and should – affirm rights and dignity for youth, and all people.

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