Chicago – In an effort to deny women in Illinois access to safe and effective medical care, leaders of the movement to bar access to reproductive health care, including contraceptives, are introducing a bill on women’s health care through the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.  The measure, House Bill 4117 sponsored by Representative Thomas Morrison, may be heard by that Committee as early as Tuesday afternoon, February 21st.  The bill, drafted by a group of well-known, anti-abortion activists committed to shutting down all facilities providing safe and effective reproductive health care to women, creates excessive and unnecessary regulations on health care facilities that do not increase health and safety for women.

“No one should be fooled by this effort to play politics with women’s health care,” said Colleen K. Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois.  “If the politicians and ideologues behind this effort have their way, the effect will be to shut down many clinics in Illinois that provide abortion and contraceptive care.”

“Make no mistake, the goal of this legislation is to shutter women’s health clinics, not improve women’s health care.”

The Illinois House rejected a measure similar to House Bill 4117 last year after a lengthy debate on the floor of the House.  During the course of that debate, opponents of the legislation made clear that Illinois already enforces vigorous regulations on all health care facilities in the State – including women’s health care clinics.  Given the State’s current economic challenges, legislators also were unwilling to adopt this medically unnecessary regulatory scheme drafted by politicians, not physicians, that would cost the State more money to oversee.

Again this year, the proponents of this legislation have chosen to hold the hearing for the bill in the Agricultural and Conservation Committee, a body without any expertise in public health care.  Indeed, last year the Committee heard debates over muskrats and hunting before considering this measure.

“We heard the debate in the Agricultural Committee last year,” added Connell.  “Those legislators know a lot about livestock, crops and salt licks.  They do not know women’s health.”

“This is simple – women are not livestock and our health care should not be treated as politics.”