Pritzker calls abortion rights threat an ’emergency,’ despite special session delay

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Gov. JB Pritzker vowed Tuesday that “anti-abortion” politicians will lose in November, as he was surrounded by Planned Parenthood leaders who are still waiting for legislative fixes — and funding — to help manage the influx of patients coming to Illinois to seek abortions. . care services.

The campaign press conference was intended to show that the Democratic governor is in fact the candidate of Illinois voters who support abortion rights, as Democrats across the country ride the momentum of the repeal of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court to increase voter turnout.

“If we don’t re-elect a pro-choice Legislature, and yes, a pro-choice governor, Illinois could easily end up as one of our anti-choice neighboring states,” Pritzker said at Planned Parenthood’s office. Loop.

“Darren Bailey has clearly said that he would not even allow abortion in cases of rape or incest, and even compared it to the Holocaust. Darren Bailey’s dangerous politics is a threat to women and girls around the world. This is not a drill. This is a real emergency.”

But the event also highlighted that Pritzker’s June 24 promise to convene the Illinois General Assembly in session in Springfield to “further enshrine” reproductive rights remains unfulfilled. Similarly, Pritzker expressed his support for an assault weapons ban after the Highland Park massacre. But he is likely to find it hard to get enough support in an election year.

“Lawmakers are working hard now. I think they know, in task forces, actually working with Planned Parenthood and a lot of other pro-choice organizations to make sure they can come up with the legislation that we need,” Pritzker said of the delay in calling lawmakers to Springfield.

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Those discussions involve legislation to protect medical providers from legal, criminal and civil liability, expand the capacity of providers who can perform abortions, and measures to protect and grow clinics, Pritzker said.

Governor JB Pritzker speaks at a news conference on Tuesday.

Governor JB Pritzker speaks at a news conference on Tuesday.

For his part, Pritzker announced in August an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates for abortion services, and state public health officials announced an additional $2 million in grants for providers offering family planning services.

And Illinois already has some of the strongest laws to protect abortion rights. Under Pritzker, the state established in 2019 the right to reproductive health care, including abortions. The foundation for protecting abortion in Illinois was laid in 2017 when Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed a measure allowing public funding of abortions and ensuring that the procedure would remain legal, if Roe v. Wade.

And in December, Pritzker signed a measure that repealed the last remaining state law restricting abortion rights, a law that prevented minors from having to notify their parents or guardians before having an abortion.

Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis and Southwest Missouri region, said the surge of patients who came to the Fairview Heights clinic in the south of the state from neighboring states “was much more faster” than they expected.

Rodríguez said wait times went from three or four days to two and a half weeks. She said that Illinois has seen a 76% increase in abortions after 14 weeks of gestation.

“These wait times are affecting Illinois patients just as much as patients in other states. There is no time to lose. Last week, four more states completely banned abortion and more will join the list very soon,” Rodríguez said. “We are leading a public health crisis and we need our leaders to provide relief to abortion providers and support services across the state.”

Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis and Southwest Missouri region, speaks at Tuesday's news conference.

Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis and Southwest Missouri region, speaks at Tuesday’s news conference.

Rodriguez said that, for now, Planned Parenthood relies on private donations to fill a funding gap caused by a surge in patients.

“I think that Planned Parenthood has always gone through the mission versus supporting that we have sustainability over time,” Rodríguez said. “And at this time, what I can tell you is that, in the wake of Dobbs’ decision, we rely on the generosity and support of people who have decided to take a stand and provide their support, including financial support.”

“Will this be sustainable over time, when we’re looking at $900 to $1,500 just to provide practical support for transportation and lodging? No,” Rodriguez said. “And we made it very clear to Governor Pritzker why this is an imperative, and we will continue to work with him to ensure we have a sustainable platform here.”

Pritzker also highlighted the importance of the US Senate, Illinois Supreme Court and other judicial races this November, saying abortion rights must remain a focus.

“To those anti-abortion politicians, know that we are coming for you. You will lose in November,” Pritzker said. “We cannot sit idly by while extremist retrograde Republican politicians and judges treat women like second-class citizens.”