Governor

Pritzker Signs Expansion of Abortion Rights Into Illinois Law

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday legislation expanding abortion rights across the state. 

Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act in a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center, according to his public schedule. He had previously vowed to sign the bill when it passed both chambers of the legislature late last month. 

It makes Illinois' abortion law among the nation's most sweeping in response to action in at least six Republican-controlled states in recent weeks that sharply restricts access to the procedure.

The Illinois House has endorsed expanded abortion protections as a half-dozen other states strive to restrict the procedure. NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern reports.

The measure would rescind prohibitions on some late-term abortions and 45-year-old criminal restraints such as criminal penalties for doctors performing abortions, all measures whose enforcement has been prohibited by court orders.

The restrictions adopted after the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion have never been enforced Illinois because of court injunctions. 

The bill's sponsors warned that its protections would be necessary should the landmark Roe v. Wade decision be overturned.  

Outnumbered Republicans denounced the plan, contending it so loosens definitions of fetal viability and doctors' responsibility in determining the medical need for an abortion that it broadly expands late-term terminations that are not medically necessary.

"With reproductive health care under attack across the country, we must do everything in our power to protect women's rights in Illinois," Pritzker said in a statement after the bill passed the House. "Today was a major step forward for every woman in this state."

Illinois joins Democratic-led states such as Nevada, New York and Vermont with efforts to reinforce abortion rights in advance of the potential abandonment of Roe.

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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