2022 midterm elections to test Illinois’ abortion access

By Farah Bassyouni Oct 28, 2022

Photo Credit: @iwusenate

Reproductive rights are on the line in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The overturning of Roe v. Wade resulted in abortion laws being placed in the hands of state officials, who will decide their state’s policies regarding abortion. 

State officials now have the power to keep abortion legal in the state, ban abortion or place restrictions on who qualifies for abortion. They can also enforce punishment on those who obtain or perform abortions in a state that chooses to criminalize abortion. 

Every state bordering Illinois has either banned abortion or is expected to ban it soon. People from these states are allowed to cross state lines into Illinois to access reproductive care. This practice is becoming more common because Illinois is the only Midwestern state without a mandatory waiting period for people seeking abortions. 

Illinois has protected reproductive rights in the past. In 2019, the state become the second in the Unities States to place statutory protection for abortion as a fundamental right with the Reproductive Health Act. 

Illinois also defended reproductive rights in 2021, when Governor J.B Pritzker signed the Youth Health and Safety Act into law, which ended the required parental consent for a minor to access abortion care. Pritzker is seeking reelection as the Democratic candidate for the 2022 elections and has been very public about his pro-choice policies. 

In contrast, State Sen. Darren Bailey, the Republican candidate for the 2022 elections, has publicly said that he is pro-life, and his campaign website states he “voted against the extreme overhaul and expansion of abortion access in Illinois” and “opposes state and taxpayer funding of abortions.”

In early October, both candidates answered questions about abortion access during the Illinois Governor’s Debate at Illinois State University. 

​​“Governor Pritzker is perfectly fine with our children getting abortions without their parents knowing anything about it. I think that’s extreme,” Bailey said during the debate, addressing the Youth Health and Safety Act. 

He also stated on abc7chicago that he will “make the exception, always, when the life of the mother is at stake,” but he wouldn’t say the same for cases of rape or incest.

In opposition, Pritzker criticized Bailey for wanting to jail doctors and women seeking abortions. “We’ve got to make sure that Illinois is a haven for women all across our state,” Pritzker said.

Emerson College Polling presented a poll at the debate that showed that over 46 percent of the poll’s participants support increasing funding for abortion clinics in Illinois to support out-of-state patients seeking abortion care. 36.6 percent of participants opposed increasing funding and 17.2 percent were unsure.

Despite criticizing Pritzker’s approach to reproductive rights, Bailey said that in the current political climate, it would be impossible to pursue pro-life policies through executive orders. “Regardless of what I think, nothing is going to change in Illinois because of the makeup of the legislature,” he said. 

Illinois Wesleyan University’s Student Senate will host a voter registration tabling event on Nov. 1 and 2, and have encouraged students to vote. Students who plan to vote in Bloomington have the option to do so at Hansen Student Center, where the Civic Engagement Committee will provide cookies. 

 

 

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