Updated to Add Tuesday, March 15th, 3:15 p.m. - HB 3156 was passed out of the Agriculture Committee on a 13-0 vote, over opposition from the ACLU of Illinois.  HB 1919 was not called for consideration before the committee adjourned.

Springfield – Women and men from across Illinois, outraged that state lawmakers are “treating women like livestock,” will come together Tuesday to object to the review of critical reproductive health legislation by the House Agricultural Committee.

ACLU attendants are wearing T-shirts adorned with a photo of a cow to send a clear message: Bills dealing with the most fundamental women’s reproductive health care rights shouldn’t be considered in the same committee as muskrat hunting and grazing fees. Women are not livestock!

Illinois follows a disturbing pattern across the nation. Members of the Illinois House of Representatives are considering a number of legislative proposals designed to “eliminate meaningful access to abortion services in Illinois and increase regulatory costs in the state,” according to Colleen Connell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Illinois.

“The voters of Illinois do not endorse this radical agenda,” Connell added. “Voters recently 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.”

The ACLU of Illinois asserts that lawmakers are mishandling critical legislation. The organization believes it is dangerous to ask lawmakers on the Agricultural Committee to consider such serious and specialized reproductive health care bills. The result, according to the ACLU of Illinois, is that legislators will absent-mindedly push the bills to a vote without any real knowledge of their many potential negative repercussions for women across the state.

In Illinois, the Committee may well approve two measures – House Bill 1919 and House Bill 3156 – that add unnecessary governmental regulations to reproductive health care providers and women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

House Bill 3156 creates excessive, politically-driven regulations for abortions clinics that provide nothing for patient health and safety. For more than 20 years, the Illinois Public Health Department has been safely and effectively regulating these clinics. These additional obstacles will further reduce the number of clinics across Illinois able to perform safe, early abortions. More than 90 percent of Illinois counties already have no abortion services. If House Bill 3156 becomes law, women’s fundamental rights to reproductive health care will be further restricted.

House Bill 1919 would violate women’s reproductive rights by forcing those 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 withstand a medically unnecessary hour-long waiting period.

Photo credit: Creative Commons license from pikaluk.