On December 7th, 2022, Representative Ann Williams joined Health News Illinois for a panel discussion to discuss the future of abortion access in Illinois. comprised of abortion rights activists and lawmakers.
Rep. Williams joined abortion rights activists and experts to explore Illinois’ current status as a 100% pro-choice state, and what this means for people living in neighboring states who cross the border seeking healthcare.
Representative Williams began by acknowledging the great work and preparation done by Planned Parenthood and the Chicago Abortion Fund. Williams acknowledged that the legislature foresaw the collapse of Roe. Looking backwards, Rep. Williams discussed the steps Illinois took to solidify access to safe and legal abortion.
“We passed House Bill 40 several years ago which eliminated the trigger law and provided for Medicaid funding of abortions. Also, the Reproductive Health Act was a comprehensive bill which ruled out all the antiquated items in Illinois law that might be restored if Roe were to fall. So, we had a really good base moving into the Dobbs decision. We just passed the parental notification law which provided for the elimination of that requirement.”
“As a fully pro-choice state, we are 100% a bubble in the Midwest. But that does not mean we do not have lots of work to do moving forward.”
Williams was then asked whether the working group would present their progress in the upcoming Spring legislative session. She went on to discuss compiling a set of priorities and actions to be taken by her Dobbs working group.
“In many respects, much of our work needs to be legislative. For some things, they may be budgetarily related. We need to probably ensure that there’s adequate resources for the entities doing the hard work every day on the front lines. So, it could be a combination of things. We also want to include an educational component to anything we produce in terms of a report. People need to know that things like maternal child welfare and healthcare resources are important, now more than ever. [They need to know] that the Safe Haven laws are tied into the abortion discussion.”
Later, Representative Williams was asked about gaps in access to care provided in Illinois.
“We really are working closely with providers and organizations like the Chicago Abortion Fund, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and others to get the answers they’ve been asking for. We ask ourselves what we can do at the state level to ensure that they can continue the work that they do, especially as the demand increases exponentially. One other issue is not just abortion access care but gender-affirming care. Illinois, once again, is somewhat of an island here. We cannot overlook things we do not talk about much, and that is that the Dobbs decision took a toll, not just on those who have had their abortion access care restricted, but other marginalized groups. We just lost a big chunk of our rights, and this makes people question their place in society and their value as human beings.”
For access to the full panel discussion, click here.