One of Southland’s loudest voices in Congress visited a Planned Parenthood facility in Flossmoor on Friday to speak about the importance of women’s rights and the growing demand for abortion care in Illinois.
U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, said the June 24 Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade will impact Americans for generations.
“In doing so, the Supreme Court set back women’s rights 50 years,” Kelly said. “This decision was a slap in the face, and it opened the door for the Supreme Court to roll back all of our rights which are based on the fundamental right to privacy.”
Flossmoor has been on the front lines of the battle over abortion care since Planned Parenthood opened a facility at 19831 Governors Highway in 2018. Escorts escort patients into the clinic, and anti-abortion protesters continually stage protests along public roads.
“Since Roe was overthrown in June, the number of abortion patients coming to Flossmoor Health Center from out of state has tripled,” said Cristina Villarreal of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “The vast majority of these patients are from Indiana.”
Access to abortion is restricted or prohibited in all states bordering the Land of Lincoln. Indiana lawmakers recently passed a near-total abortion ban that prohibits abortion during implantation, except in cases of rape or incest, which will go into effect September 15.
“Illinois is a heavenly state in the Midwest now that Roe has been overthrown,” Villarreal said. “With the fall of Roe, we anticipate an annual increase of 20,000 to 30,000 additional out-of-state abortion patients. The wave of patients is already there.
In August, the 17 Planned Parenthood facilities in Illinois that provide abortion care served more out-of-state patients than ever before, she said.
“We expect these numbers to continue to rise,” Villarreal said.
The Dobbs ruling sparked a wave of excitement among Democratic voters. The seismic shift in political sentiment was evident when Kansas voters this month forcefully affirmed the right to access abortion care. In New York on Tuesday, a Democrat upset a Republican favorite to win an open seat in Congress in a special election.
Democratic enthusiasm for women’s rights, an increase in President Joe Biden’s job endorsements, lower gas prices and other good economic news have dampened expectations that Republicans will recover a majority in the House and Senate in November’s midterm elections.
“We were hesitant about what was going to happen,” said Kelly, former chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. “We always thought we were going to do better than people thought in November. That helps us a bit more.”
Typically, Kelly said she would observe Women’s Equality Day on August 26. The event commemorates the date in 1920 when US Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified states’ ratification of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.
“This year, we’re turning August 26 into a day of action for women’s health,” Kelly said.
For decades, the conservative media has helped portray abortion as a religious and moral issue concerning the sanctity of life. About half of the states are on the verge of restricting or prohibiting access to abortion, and several offer no exceptions for rape, incest or other issues.
Knocking down Roe, however, unleashed a torrent of real-world scenarios. Women are forced to carry non-viable fetuses because doctors fear lawsuits for termination of pregnancy. The practical implications of banning abortion are largely economic, and financial concerns tend to sway voters more than other considerations.
“Forced births will push more women out of the workforce,” Kelly said. “Child care is unaffordable for so many Americans, and now even more women will have to stay home to raise their families, impacting their family’s earning potential and wealth for generations to come. come.”
Even before the Dobbs decision, Kelly advocated in Congress for policies and funding to help reduce the number of American women who die from complications during childbirth.
“Black women are disproportionately affected by maternal morbidity and mortality,” Kelly said. “Nationally, black women die from pregnancy-related complications two to three times more than white women.”
Kelly said she introduced legislation to provide a full year of postpartum Medicaid coverage in every state. The provision was included as an option in the US bailout but will expire in about four years, she said. Many states with harsh abortion restrictions or bans have refused to extend the benefit to residents, she said.
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Kelly said she lobbied for the benefit during budget negotiations in Congress, a process known as reconciliation.
“I fought to include that in the reconciliation, but the men who brokered the final deal chose not to include it,” Kelly said. “But I won’t give up. Every day, I look for ways to bring this vital coverage to women in every state across the country.
Abortion is part of a range of health services offered by Planned Parenthood. The Illinois organization is working with chapters in Wisconsin and other states to meet increased demand for abortion services, Villarreal said.
“We provide abortion care to our patients, no matter where they live or how far they have to travel,” she said.
Kelly, 66, has represented Illinois’ 2nd congressional district since 2013. She will face former Republican Iroquois County Councilman Thomas Lynch in November.
Ted Slowik is a columnist for the Daily Southtown.