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Illinois reacts to Texas abortion ban

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Illinois organizations and politicians had strong reactions to Texas’s restrictive abortion law went into effect this week.

Illinois, unlike many of its neighbors and Texas, has some of the most progressive abortion laws in the country.

The law, which bans abortion if there is a fetal heartbeat, went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to act on an emergency appeal by local abortion providers. Experts say the heartbeat is actually the electric flickering of blood vessels that haven’t formed a heart. The Texas Tribune reported that it would affect at least 85% of the abortions taking place in the state. Many people don’t know they are pregnant within the first six weeks.

The law, according to the Tribune, is actually enforced by private citizens who can sue abortion providers and anyone involved in aiding or abetting an abortion after a “heartbeat” is detected. That could allow the law to go into effect in spite of Roe v. Wade.

According to NPR, Texas Right to Life has already set up a “whistleblower” website where people can submit anonymous tips against those suspected of violating the law.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) blasted the Supreme Court for its inaction.

“The Supreme Court’s refusal to act has led to the implementation of one of the most draconian abortion bans since Roe v. Wade established that women have the right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Simply put—the Supreme Court has enabled the greatest assault on women’s rights in decades.”

Ameri Klafeta, director of the Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project at the ACLU of Illinois, also criticized the Supreme Court and called the law cruel.

“The Texas law cruelly bans abortion care as early as six weeks – before many people even know they are pregnant,” she said. “The measure also allows individuals – literally anyone even if they have no connection to a patient – to sue doctors, health care workers and even friends who support someone in accessing abortion care after six weeks. Such provisions stand in direct opposition to the principles enshrined in Roe v. Wade, making the Court’s inaction all the more disturbing.”

Klafeta also said Illinois residents can take solace in the fact that protections for reproductive health have been passed and signed by both Republican and Democratic governors.

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) said the Texas law was only one of many laws being introduced or passed in the U.S. restricting abortion access.

“Texas is not alone. In 2021, Republican lawmakers in 16 states have enacted over 83 new abortion restrictions, with an additional 561 bills introduced across 47 states to attempt to undermine equitable access to health care every day,” he said.

Casten called for the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) H.R. 3755 to help protect access to abortion nationwide.

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