Updated to Add: Tuesday, March 8th - The House Agriculture Committee adjourned today after a two hour hearing. The three anti-choice bills discussed below were not called. We believe they will be called next week. Join us for a Rally in opposition on Tuesday, March 15th.

CHICAGO – This is a critical week for women’s reproductive health care in the Illinois House, according the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Copying a disturbing pattern across the nation, members of the Illinois House of Representatives will consider a number of legislative proposals designed to “eliminate meaningful access to abortion services in Illinois and increase regulatory costs in the state,” according to the ACLU.

“Taken together, these measures are designed to eliminate meaningful access to abortion services in Illinois,” said Colleen K. Connell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Illinois in critiquing the legislative proposals. “The voters of Illinois do not endorse this radical agenda. Voters rejected a gubernatorial candidate with a solid, anti-abortion record because they want the state’s leadership to focus on fixing the budget and creating jobs.”

“Now, we find ourselves in the early portion of the legislative session focusing on issues that few support beyond the hard core of Illinois politicians who want to make the most intimate, life decisions for women in our state,” added Connell.

Among the bills to be considered this week are three scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, March 8th in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee. The Committee, not one that traditionally considers legislation affecting women’s health care or public health issues, may well approve three measures – House Bill 1919, House Bill 2093 and House Bill 3156 – that add unnecessary governmental regulations on reproductive health care providers and women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. House Bill 3156, as an example, adds excessive, politically-driven regulations for abortions clinics that add nothing to patient health and safety. These clinics have been safely and effectively regulated by the Illinois Public Health Department (IDPH) for more than 20 years. These extra burdens were designed to further reduce the number of clinics across Illinois able to perform safe, early abortions. 92% of Illinois counties already have no abortion services. If House Bill 3156 becomes law, that percentage will rise.

“We understand the House Agriculture Committee does a great job dealing with livestock,” said Connell.

“Women are not livestock. This measure is a thinly-veiled effort to reduce abortion services by imposing excessive and costly regulations on abortion clinics. These medically-inappropriate regulations also will impose new costs on the IDPH. This is about politics and ideology, not health care.”

Other bills scheduled to be considered by the Agriculture Committee this week include House Bill 1919, which forces every woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy, regardless of her personal circumstances and desires, to view an ultrasound of her fetus or decline to do so in writing and imposes a medically unnecessary hour waiting period. Another measure, House Bill 2093, expands mandated reporting of child abuse – already required of every licensed health care professional in the state – to cover every employee or volunteer of any organizations that provides or refers for reproductive health care – creating cumbersome and unnecessary bureaucracy and training requirements for non-profit organizations and diverting time and money from patient care.

“These measures must be defeated,” said the ACLU’s Connell.