Public Comments of Chaundre White
Senior Supervising Attorney at the ACLU of Illinois
Before the Danville City Council
May 2, 2023
Good evening. My name is Chaundre White and I’m the Senior Supervising Attorney at the ACLU of Illinois. Thank you all for the opportunity to share these remarks with you.
Let me explain why i’m here tonight. Over more than five decades, the ACLU of Illinois has litigated every major Illinois abortion rights issue in both state and federal courts. We have also worked tirelessly in the legislature to create protections in the law for those seeking abortion care and other reproductive health care services in Illinois. We are so very proud of that work, and, to be sure, we are the experts on the law in this area.
It is exactly this depth of experience and expertise that led the ACLU to send each of you a letter last week making clear that the proposed ordinance before you this evening is unlawful and unenforceable. I understand the attorney general’s office sent you a similar warning letter as well. It is your responsibility to reject this ordinance now.
To be clear, the ordinance will not result in limiting abortion care in Danville; it will, as you have been warned, result in you and the taxpayers of Danville paying significant legal fees and costs when this ordinance is successfully challenged.
The state of Illinois has a reproductive rights policy that eclipses this proposed ordinance. The Reproductive Health Act is an Illinois statute enacted nearly four years ago and remains in full effect today. It makes it the specific policy of the entire state of Illinois that each person in this state has a fundamental right to make all reproductive health care decisions without government interference. All decisions.
The RHA applies in Danville just the same way that it does in Decatur, Dekalb or Dixon. Danville is not above the law.
As a local official, there are some things you can do. You can personally oppose the law, you can work to repeal the RHA and you can hold strongly held beliefs about abortion rights. The ACLU fully embraces and supports your right to use your voice in opposition of a policy we support. But that ability to speak out does not extend to allowing this body to repeal a part of a state law in your community. That is not only illegal – it is an invitation to chaos.
We encourage you to ignore the advice you are getting to pass this ordinance. It is misguided and wrong. Despite what you have been told, there is no conflict between state and federal law. Illinois law governs here. This ordinance is against the law and should be ignored. The ACLU urges you to reject this measure before you, follow the law, and protect the rights and pocketbooks of the citizens of Danville. Thank you.