Illinois Legislators Threatening Access to Abortions With New Legislation

by: Jamie Anne Royce

Illinois legislators are threatening abortion access with two bills currently in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

That’s right, the agriculture committee. The committee that focuses on livestock, crops and farmers will hear bills on health care.

“Putting these bills in the ag committee is about putting these bills in a committee that is conservative enough to move the bills to the floor,” said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a member of the agriculture committee.

The Ultrasound Opportunity Act (House Bill 4085) requires a person seeking an abortion be offered the “opportunity to receive and view an active ultrasound of her unborn child” at the clinic. The Department of Public Health must also prepare and make available a reporting form, to be submitted by each abortion facility to the department annually.

HB 4117 would amend the Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act to include abortion service providers.

“Lawmakers have introduced [HB 4117] to force all abortion providers to become mini hospitals, even providers who only provide medication abortion,” said Carole Brite, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “I don’t think we could function. It would cost Planned Parenthood of Illinois millions of dollars to retrofit our facilities.”

Planned Parenthood health centers provide crucial, life-saving services, including breast exams, birth control, abortion services, vasectomies, cervical cancer screenings and sexually transmitted infection screenings and treatment. If people seeking services do not have insurance or do not qualify for Medicaid or other assistance, Planned Parenthood will work with them to make sure they receive the services they need.

Surgical centers across the state don’t have the same requirements that HB 4117 would place on abortion service providers. To run Planned Parenthood out of Illinois would cut off health care services to thousands of people in Illinois.

These bills are overly stringent regulations devised to deliberately block access to abortion, keep abortion services out of Illinois and skirt Roe v. Wade.

In response, Cassidy will introduce an amendment to the Ultrasound Opportunity Act requiring people seeking Viagra for erectile dysfunction to watch a video on the potential side effects of the medication before receiving it.

“When the ultrasound bill was introduced, I talked about desire to put something in that was reciprocal,” said Cassidy. “If we were to require informed consent for potential erectile dysfunction patients on the potential side effects and treatment of those side effects, it would be a reasonable balance.”

The agriculture committee will hear the bills on Feb. 21.

Jamie Royce is a fierce fancy femme and mobile media machine, working as a freelance writer, reporter, editor and photojournalist. She also blogs at Stuff Queer People Need To Know.

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