Protecting access to reproductive health care was among my earliest entries to activism. I’ve served as a clinic escort, and have worked with leaders at the local, state, and federal level to protect choice for decades. I sponsored the Reproductive Health Act and an active cosponsor of both House Bill 40 and the repeal of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act. This summer, I was pleased to be asked by Speaker Welch to lead working group tasked with crafting legislation responding to issues raised for our state, patients, and providers in light of the fall of Roe v Wade with the release of the Dobbs decision. In this section, we will provide background on how we expect this decision to impact us here in Illinois and updates as the working group prepares for session.
What's the Update?
September 26, 2022
Within the last few weeks, we have been exploring the scope that the Dobbs decision could possibly be beyond abortion access. These conversations included a focus on gender-affirming care, protecting access to PEP/PrEP medications, protecting the right to one's embryos, as well as other issues that may face the LGBTQ+ community.
We also continue to focus on the threat of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and data privacy-centered conversations. Capacity also remains top of mind as we continue to see an increase in patients coming for abortion or gender-affirming care. How our medical system can expand with the help of state departments and legislative policies are critical to ensure our system can hold up to the demand we are already seeing.
We continue these conversations and are now working on pivoting to creating springboards for legislative work to begin during Veto Session. This all comes in the wake of Arizona making the decision to enforce an even stricter abortion ban than what they have had in place before (see our interactive map below for an update).
We will continue to keep you updated in the upcoming weeks about our progress made before Veto Session. Each category that we have explored will not require a policy change from legislators. Some items may need more of an administrative change or an internal policy update. Other items discussed require funding. The working group will be analyzing which best strategy to apply as each category explored will require a different solution.
What is a Crisis Pregnancy Center?
Our working group is studying the prevalence of crisis pregnancy centers. Crisis pregnancy centers (called CPCs or fake clinics) are clinics or mobile vans that look like real health centers but have agendas to pressure or mislead people from getting an abortion. These clinics do not provide abortions or always give accurate facts about sexual health and a woman's pregnancy options. Often crisis pregnancy centers are not licensed medical facilities or staffed by licensed professionals and offer ultrasounds by unlicensed personnel. There are 90+ CPCs in Illinois. As of 2020, there are 2,500+ CPCs nationwide. CPCs outnumber abortion clinics nationwide by an average of more than 3 to 1. We are working on legislation based on what we have heard from practical support groups and providers to better address this issue. We are also notifying major search platforms like Google of this problem as many searches that come up for people who are looking for abortions are sent CPC sites which are places to avoid for people who need abortion services. Below is a map that my Chief of Staff, Torrence Gardner, put together to highlight how many abortion providers we have in relation to CPCs. The purple icons are the abortion providers and the red dots are the CPCs. Feel free to use this map as a way to find abortion services.
If you specifically live in Chicago and you or if you know someone who is seeking reproductive health care support and services, residents can visit chicago.gov/abortioncare for trusted resources and information about pregnancy options and how to find services. CDPH hosts a digital community directory as part of its OneChiFam initiative. Anyone can use this directory to search by zip code, category, or keyword.
Where is Abortion Legal in the U.S?
Below you will find a color-coded map to reflect the current status of abortion law in states across the country. This map will continue to be updated.
Abortion Law in Illinois
Click on the image below to see an At A Glance one-pager of abortion law in Illinois provided by the ACLU.
What is EMTALA?
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) ensures public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Congress passed this law in 1968. The law essentially requires stabilizing treatment whenever someone faces an emergency that could lead to potentially serious or disabling health problems, not just death. Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual's ability to pay have specific obligations to follow. States hostile to abortion are attempting to prohibit abortion even when abortion is the medically necessary treatment to stabilize a patient's emergency medical condition, violating EMTALA.
The Department of Justice is seeking to ensure EMTALA is not violated by states who are passing abortion restrictions. This is very critical to watch out for as any approved bans that violate EMTALA force physicians to choose whether to break state or federal law. Idaho is an example of a state seeking to violate EMTALA and is currently being sued by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ currently won a limited victory against Idaho that blocks Idaho from violating EMTALA which was set to go into effect very soon. Below is a statement from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding Idaho and the continued fight with states like Texas.