QUINCY – After hearing from nearly 50 local residents – and advice from lawyers for the City about the legality of the proposal – the Quincy City Council last night rejected a proposed ordinance that would declare the community a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”  A number of Quincy residents in their public comments made clear that the proposal is illegal under the Illinois Constitution and Illinois law. The proposed ordinance was promoted by a Texas-based anti-abortion advocate who led a similar effort in Danville earlier this year. 

“The majority of the Quincy City Council rejected this idea after realizing that it is unlawful and unenforceable,” said Liza Roberson-Young, senior supervising policy counsel at the ACLU of Illinois, who traveled to Quincy for the meeting and spoke on behalf of the organization. “The State of Illinois has adopted a policy assuring that every person in our state can make reproductive health care decisions without government interference. Quincy – nor any other community – cannot carve themselves out of this state law.” 

The proposed ordinance stands in direct contrast to both the Illinois Constitution and Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act which makes clear that our State’s policy is to protect reproductive rights. A number of Council members said that while they personally opposed abortion, the ordinance was an inappropriate step for local government. In particular, the RHA plainly states that:  

  • Every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health, including the fundamental right to use or refuse reproductive health care.
  • Every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise that right.
  • A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.

Quincy residents and council members noted during the discussion that the ordinance is the brainchild of a Texas-based anti-abortion activist, a theory that relies on a interpretation of a 19th Century law, the Comstock Act, that has never been enforced in the fashion anti-abortion activists suggest it can. Residents who spoke against the ordinance also noted that the City Council has other local issues they should be addressing instead and warned against the possibility of lengthy, costly litigation if the measure was adopted. The City’s lawyer echoed these concerns. 

“It was inspiring to see the number of people who came out to protect abortion rights in Illinois on a Tuesday evening in Quincy,” added Roberson-Young. “The vote by the Council shows the broad public support to assure that abortion remains safe, legal and available in Illinois.”