Today Roe v. Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court. While not unexpected, the harsh reality of what the Court has become has never been more clear. As a women’s issue, an equality issue, a healthcare issue and a privacy issue, the repeal of the right to safe and legal abortion in Roe will have resounding consequences throughout the country regarding access to reproductive healthcare and far beyond.
But I want to make one thing clear: Abortion is still safe and legal in Illinois. During my tenure in the Illinois House, we have fought to ensure that should the unthinkable happen (it did), Illinoisans would still have access to safe and legal abortion (we do). In 2017, we passed HB40, removing the trigger provision to ensure abortion remained legal in Illinois even when Roe was overturned. And in 2019, we passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), which repealed numerous antiquated abortion laws still on the books and affirmed abortion as a fundamental right in Illinois.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to see states across the country enact laws that restrict access to abortion, provide for outright bans on all abortion and even criminalize the provision of healthcare. It is estimated that 26 states are likely to quickly implement bans, including every state which borders Illinois. Many of these laws will disproportionately impact poor women and women of color.
Even before today’s ruling, we have seen an influx of people coming to Illinois seeking abortion services and other reproductive healthcare. We expect this number to rise exponentially and have already begun making preparations for the increased demand.
On a personal note, I know how difficult this ruling is for so many of us after years of fighting for this most basic right. It’s hard to believe it can be taken away with the stroke of a pen. Even though we knew this day was coming, it feels surreal. It feels as if the American ideals of freedom and self-determination have been shattered. This is about so much more than a medical procedure; it’s about the dignity of every human being to make their own healthcare decisions and exercise the bodily autonomy that is at the very core of our personhood.
I have always been absolutely and unequivocally pro-choice – and I’m in this fight for the long haul. My office will continue to serve as a resource for those seeking information on reproductive health care services. In the General Assembly, my colleagues and I will continue our work to eliminate any remaining barriers to access in Illinois, and provide for what we anticipate will be a steady increase in people seeking services here. Today Governor Pritzker called a special session for that purpose.
Many organizations have been working to increase and support access to abortion in anticipation of today’s ruling. To find out more about where you can donate, volunteer and find other ways to help, click here for the Midwest Access Coalition, here for the Chicago Abortion Fund and here for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of any assistance. My staff and I are here to help.
Ann M. Williams
State Representative – 11th District