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Governor JB Pritzker Calls on Federal Lawmakers to Protect Women's Rights with Roe v. Wade Under Threat

Press Release - Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Thank you, and good morning. With the Supreme Court's anti-choice majority poised to further restrict reproductive rights and overturn Roe v. Wade, the nation is on the precipice of eliminating a federal right that has been the law of the land for 50 years. It's shameful and wrong.

Lt. Governor Stratton, our partners in the statehouse, and I want to thank Planned Parenthood for hosting us this morning, but more importantly for the truly lifesaving and life-changing work for patients here in Illinois and throughout the United States. 

We joined together to mark the regional logistics center's opening in January, on the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, knowing that Roe's guarantee of a woman's right to choose might not make it to its 50th.

In the months since, hundreds of patients from other states throughout the South and Midwest have been cared for in this very room: recovering not only from their medical procedure as any patient would, but recovering from the odyssey that forced them to seek refuge here.

More than 75% of this clinic's patients are from out-of-state - coming from places like Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, and Kentucky, sometimes travelling eight plus hours and hundreds of miles to get basic reproductive care. Often these patients have struggled to get the necessary childcare, lodging, and time off work. They're patients who've struggled to find enough money to travel this far. Patients who've had to answer personal questions to their employers or had to invent a reason to be gone for days. Patients who've faced hurdles at every turn in the pursuit of basic healthcare. And let's be crystal clear about this point: abortion is healthcare.

By the time many of these out-of-state patients make it to Fairview Heights, Illinois, they have traveled further than anyone should have to - physically and emotionally.

People should not have to endure trauma after trauma to be in control of their own bodies - but that's exactly the burden that this right-wing Supreme Court and anti-choice governors and state legislatures increasingly put on the backs of millions more women.

Since 2015, the number of out-of-state patients coming to Illinois to make their own decisions about whether, where, and how to be a parent has tripled - and without action from Congress, it's set to soar.

Let me make this clear: Illinois is a pro-choice state, and as long as I'm governor and we retain a pro-choice legislature, we will support every woman's right to reproductive freedom. When women come here to this state, you are welcomed. You are supported. You are safe. You won't need to suffer additional trauma; you will be treated with dignity, empathy, and compassion.

To the US Senators who are voting today on whether to safeguard a woman's right to choose: there is no archaic rule, no parliamentary maneuver, no matter that is more critical than protecting the lives and bodily autonomy of more than 160 million people. It's long past time for this nation to codify Roe v. Wade into law. If it takes overhauling the filibuster, then overhaul the filibuster. If it requires countless hours of pleading and deliberation, then get to work. If it takes courage, find it.

My mother fought for women's liberation and reproductive rights, and she showed me how protests can change the minds of politicians who are stuck in the past and how important it is to turn protest into action. Right now, women are under siege. Basic rights to privacy, to healthcare, to the rights of women to control their own bodies are about to be stripped away. The world is watching. Here in Illinois we trust women. To the US Senate we say, Be Like Illinois. Thank you.

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