Who would have thought Donald Trump would win the Presidency—or that abortion would become illegal again in the United States? These are the realities of our time.
If President Trump gets one more Supreme Court appointment after Gorsuch, the high court will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that struck down state laws criminalizing abortion. In Illinois, abortion will immediately become illegal unless we pass House Bill 40 now—to repeal a dangerous law that is already on the books. Passed in 1975, Illinois law (720 ILCS 510/1) states in part:
“. . . that the unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for the purposes of the unborn child’s right to life from conception . . . (and) The General Assembly finds and declares that longstanding policy of this State to protect the right to life of the unborn child from conception by prohibiting abortion unless necessary to preserve the life of the mother, is impermissible only because of the decisions of the United States Supreme Court and that, therefore, if those decisions of the United States Supreme Court are ever reversed or modified or the United States Constitution is amended to allow protection of the unborn then the former policy of this State to prohibit abortions unless necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life shall be reinstated.”
This means no legal abortion choice for victims of sexual assault or for women whose health is threatened by carrying a pregnancy to term – or for any other reason except to prevent certain death of the woman. We can also expect anti-choice legislators to try to outlaw emergency contraception and the I.U.D. because they often work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall. Yes, law already on the books says a human zygote is a legal person. House Bill 40 would repeal this law.
House Bill 40 would also repeal discriminatory provisions of Illinois law that deny coverage for abortion under the state’s Medicaid program and state employees’ health insurance plans.
Why should any health plan single out abortion as the only medically necessary care not covered? Why should any prescription drug program that covers Viagra single out birth control pills as not covered? Some people say they oppose “public financing” of procedures or prescriptions that are prohibited by their religious beliefs. But what they want, and have accomplished, is to force their religion on people of other religions.
Women are half the population. A significant percentage of the other half benefit greatly from the risks women alone bear as a consequence of heterosexual relations. It’s time for everyone to step up and speak out in favor of abortion rights.
The majority of people in this country support legal abortion, but have been enormously complacent. They thought we could count on the courts to protect us. Clearly that is not true. If not now, when will we take seriously the threat posed to women and girls by the reality of our times?
Champaign-Urbana’s State Representative Carol Ammons is a co-sponsor of House Bill 40. Our other area legislators need to hear from lots of people asking them to vote for House Bill 40. They are: Bill Mitchell (R-101); Brad Halbrook (R-102); and Chad Hays (R-104). You can get any legislator’s contact information by going to ilga.gov. If the bill passes the Illinois House, State Senators need to hear from you.
It’s too late to stop Trump from being president. I fear it is too late to stop the Supreme Court from overturning Roe v. Wade. But we can do something here in Illinois. Please join the effort to keep abortion legal. Ask our area legislators to vote in favor of House Bill 40. Tell your friends. Sign up for legislative alerts from the American Civil Liberties Union at aclu-il.org. We still have the power to win in Illinois if we stand together for our sisters, our daughters, ourselves and all women and girls.
Esther Patt is a member of the Steering Committee and past president of the Champaign County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She has been involved in the pro-choice movement since 1977, when she co-founded a local group to fight the elimination of abortion coverage under the Illinois Medicaid program.