By Ameri Klafeta, Director of Women and Reproductive Rights Project
It has been more than six months since the United States Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, inviting states to criminalize health care. Since then, nearly half the states in this country have banned or tried to ban abortion. Similar attacks are targeting gender-affirming care in states across the country. We know that the people behind the attacks do not want to stop at just outlawing this care in their own states – they want to prevent people from traveling to other states for health care and punish the professionals in Illinois who provide this care.
On January 13, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed into law HB 4664, reaffirming Illinois’ public policy of respecting bodily autonomy and affording all people the dignity to make the best health care decisions for themselves without government interference. This new law, known as the Patient and Provider Protection Act, sends a clear message. We will not let states that are trying to restrict health care reach into Illinois to tell us what we can do.
The Patient and Provider Protection Act aims to reinforce the capacity of Illinois health care providers to meet the needs of patients in this state and to improve access to reproductive and gender affirming care. In particular, it:
- clarifies that advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants can provide aspiration (procedural) abortions;
- offers a path for expedited licensing of out-of-state medical providers who want to offer care in Illinois;
- allows birth centers to provide the full spectrum of reproductive care;
- establishes a grant program for abortion services training;
- requires insurance coverage for the medications used in abortion care, gender-affirming care, and PEP/PreP HIV-prevention without co-pays, and extends private insurance coverage requirements for contraception and abortion to county and local government insurance plans;
- authorizes the Illinois Department of Public Health to create a standing order that will facilitate getting contraceptives at local pharmacies; and
- protects patients against out-of-network costs if their health care provider declines to provide reproductive health care or gender affirming care due to a conscience-based or religious objection.
The new law also reinforces patient privacy and helps Illinois patients, health care professionals, and others who assist people in accessing care defend against abusive litigation arising in other states. To do this, the Patient and Provider Protection Act:
- places restrictions on compliance with subpoenas, summons and certain extradition orders from hostile states seeking information about abortion or gender affirming care in Illinois;
- protects Illinois providers from efforts by hostile states to suspend or revoke their medical licensure; and
- allows people who have been targeted by abusive litigation in a hostile state because of care provided in Illinois to assert a claim to recover damages, including attorneys’ fees.
Finally, this bill shores up some areas of Illinois law to be very clear, in this time of uncertainty, about Illinois protections. For example, it:
- explicitly recognizes that “assisted reproduction,” including IVF and other methods people use to build their families, is protected as a fundamental right, and
- clarifies that the law that requires hospital personnel to report crimes is not to be construed to require the reporting of lawful reproductive and gender affirming health care, even if it would be a violation of another state’s law.
The legal landscape for abortion and gender affirming care will remain uncertain and unsettled for the foreseeable future in many states. But in Illinois, the Patient and Provider Protection Act reinforces Illinois’ commitment to do what everything we can to protect this care and the people needing such treatment.