The governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, signed on Wednesday a law that declares abortion as a “fundamental right of women”, in contrast to the restrictive measures of termination of pregnancy approved by other states of the Midwest and East of the country.
“At a time when many states are retreating, Illinois took a giant step forward in favor of women’s health,” Pritzker said in a statement.
The Democratic leader indicated that the enactment of the Reproductive Health Law reaffirms the individual rights of women to make the “most personal and fundamental decisions of their lives” regardless of their level of income, race, ethnic origin or religion.
“When it comes to contraceptives, abortion and reproductive care, this law leaves the decision in the hands of the appropriate person, women and their doctors,” he added.
This new law replaces the one adopted in 1975 and eliminates the need for consent of the spouse, in addition to the penal sanctions for doctors who perform abortions, waiting periods and certain restrictions that apply to clinics where abortions are performed.
The text requires that private health plans in Illinois cover the performance of abortions as they do with other care related to pregnancy care.
It also states that “an ovule, embryo or fertilized fetus does not have independent rights”.
The bill had been introduced in February in the state Legislative Assembly, where it remained unconsidered for several months, until abortion restrictions began to be approved in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and North Dakota.
As stated in the debate by Illinois lawmakers, this law is essential in the event that the Supreme Court overturns its famous 1973 ruling, in the Roe v. Case. Wade, for which declared any interference of the State in the decision of the woman on the pregnancy unconstitutional.
Pritzker stated that the Reproductive Health Act ensures that the rights of women in Illinois do not depend on the fate of abortion in the Supreme Court.
The anti-abortion crusade would seek the annulment of that ruling, but according to Pritzker, the rights of women in Illinois will not depend on the “whim of an increasingly conservative Supreme Court”.
In neighboring Missouri, a law recently enacted by Republican Gov. Mike Parson prohibits the termination of pregnancy after the eighth week of pregnancy.
In Alabama, a law prohibits abortions at any stage of pregnancy and imposes penalties ranging from 10 years in prison to life imprisonment to physicians who practice them.
In other states, laws prohibiting abortion were passed once the fetus’ heartbeat is detected, which can happen in the sixth week of pregnancy.
In all cases, the Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations that defend the rights of women have temporarily blocked the validity of the laws with appeals filed in the courts.