Illinois committee approves bill ensuring abortion remains legal

(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)Pro-choice protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 2, 2016.

An Illinois House committee has approved a legislation that would ensure abortion remains legal in the state even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

On Wednesday, the Human Services Committee passed House Bill 40, which would strike out a "trigger language" that would criminalize abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Under the legislation, abortions will be covered by Medicaid as well as the State Employee Health Insurance, according to the State Journal-Register.

The committee voted 7–5 in favor of the bill, with no Republican support. A total of 8,323 witness slips were filed in support of the measure, with 3,586 opposing it.

Republican Rep. Sheri Jesiel expressed her concern about a part of the legislation that would remove the provision in Illinois' 1975 Abortion Act, recognizing the fetus as an unborn child.

"I take great exception to the section that removes the personhood of a baby," Jesiel said. "From a financial standpoint, we're funding it with taxpayer dollars, which at the federal level, we've already decided that this is inappropriate," she continued.

Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Chicago spoke in favor of the bill, telling other lawmakers that her three boys would not have been born if she did not have access to abortion services that prevented her from becoming infertile.

"I had to have that abortion to preserve my fertility. I want everyone to have the choices I had," she said.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, the sponsor of the bill, said that her proposal is a direct response to President Donald Trump, who promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

"We really have to protect Illinois women and make an affirmative statement as a General Assembly that says Illinois is going to be a state where abortion is safe and legal no matter what happens with the Supreme Court and Donald Trump," said Feigenholtz, as reported by The Chicago Tribune.

The measure would require a full House vote, a Senate approval and the signature of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner before it becomes law.

Planned Parenthood and ACLU are among the organizations that support the legislation. Among the organizations that are opposed to the bill are the Illinois Family Institute and Illinois Right to Life.

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