A Look at House Bill 2495: The Base for Expanding Reproductive Rights in Illinois

By: Isabella Perez

Topic: Politics and Legislation

Introduction 

Various legislative bodies in the Midwest have recently imposed laws that limit the ability of what women can and cannot do when it comes to their reproductive rights. In May 2019, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Bill 1226, similar to a recently passed Alabama law, which bans abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy unless it is a medical emergency even in the instance of rape and incest. Further, Ohio and Wisconsin adopted similar measures which ban abortions after six weeks and as soon as a medical professional can hear a heartbeat. 

In response to stricter government regulations surrounding reproductive health, the Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 2495 (HB 2495) in 2019 to loosen burdensome regulations and heightened individual freedom’s on a woman’s liberties and freedom to choose. House Bill 2495’s final version was eventually amended in the Senate, became Senate Bill 25 and was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritkzer.

Summary 

House Bill 2495 states that every person in Illinois have the fundamental right to make decisions about their own reproductive health. This entails the choice to remain pregnant and give birth or to terminate their pregnancy. Additionally, it articulates that a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus has no rights under Illinois law and gives further explanation to prohibit state actions and repeals.

Health Benefits

A common misconception of Planned Parenthood is that the institution’s primary purpose is to help women receive abortions for both planned and unplanned pregnancies. However, this misguided notion ignores several health benefits the institutions provides women, as well as men, with:

  • Screening for reproductive cancers (ex: breast, cervical, testicular, and prostate)
  • Birth control 
  • STD and HIV testing and treatment
  • Vaccines 
  • PrEP and PEP (medicines that help to prevent HIV) 
  • Pap tests and well woman exams
  • Pregnancy services and prenatal care, 
  • Transgender health services 
    • including HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
  • Condoms
  • Vasectomy and other sterilization services 
  • Medical staff, Counselors and health educators to talk about sexual health and parenting skills
  • Information on health care and government programs 

Opposition 

Some lawmakers are opposed to the legislation primary on moral grounds, arguing that the state should not pass and implement laws that allow an individual to terminate life. One outspoken critic is Illinois republican representative Avery Bourne.

She argued the legislation was rushed through the majority party and the “issue was not given the respect it deserves.” Additionally, Bourne further argues that it takes away the rights of “unborn babies” and touches on the danger of it “these extreme, expansive changes to Illinois abortion laws put mothers and viable unborn babies at risk.”

The legislation also does not further provide funding to clinics or doctors, nor does it take away funding from any other place. Some opponents argue that increasing the accessibility of health clinics would also have for more state funding do to potential increase in demand. Because the state is already short on money, future funding is a major concern for some. 

Repeals of Previous law

This bill states that any party in violation of HB 2495 be subject to a lawsuit; as well as repealing the following: 

  • Health care professionals must report every abortion performed to the Department of Health; 
  • This bill repeals: 
    • Sexual assault survivors emergency which gives instructions to inform the survivor that the sexual assault evidence will be stored for 5 years from completion of the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit or 10 years from the age of 18 years, whichever is longer. 
    • Injunction article of the code of civil procedure “the court shall grant the relief to which plaintiff is entitled on the amended pleadings or upon the evidence. In considering whether a proposed amendment is just and reasonable” 
    • The 1975 abortion law which made abortion illegal unless it was to save a woman’s life. 
    • Partial birth abortion ban act that “prohibits any physician or other individual from knowingly performing a partial-birth abortion, except when necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.”  it gives the father if married to the mother or the maternal grandparents of the fetus (if mother is under 18 years of age) to deny the woman’s right to an abortion to obtain specified relief in a civil action, (unless the pregnancy resulted from criminal conduct or “the plantiff consents to the abortion”) 
    • Abortion performance refusal act “specifies that a medical professional who declines to recommend or perform an abortion procedure cannot be held liable for damages” 
    • Vital records act explaining that one must have surgery before they can change their gender marker on any legal document 
    • Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act which give legal specifications in the type of facilities abortions can be performed in 
    • There are corresponding changes in the Children and Family Services Act, the Counties Code, the Medical Practice Act of 1987, the Criminal Code of 2012, and the Rights of Married Persons Act. Which overall pertains to the limitations of abortions.

Amendments within the Act

Some amendments modify the Illinois Insurance code to cover abortions. It also prohibits health professionals from opting out of giving an epidural or general anestesia for operative surgery and abortions. Without aforementioned anesthetics the operations may not be performed. Another amendment is that any tissue of an abortion and miscarriage may be buried or cremated.

Cementing Health Production Rights Into Law

Upon being passed by the Illinois House, HB 2495 was sent to the Senate for further deliberation. It was produced into a new bill, Senate Bill 25, which expanded HB 2495, such as prohibiting referral fees and strengthening regulation of insurance companies. This final version was passed by the Senate spring 2019 and into law by Gov. Pritzker June 2019.

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