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Abortion to become human right in Illinois if Pritzker signs bill

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(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker could soon enact a bill pro-life advocates say will infringe on Illinois employers’ and pregnancy resource centers’ rights. The bill aims to prohibit employers or others from discriminating against women who have abortions or intend to have an abortion.

Opponents of House Bill 4867 say enshrining abortion into law as a human right in the Illinois Human Rights Act will infringe on employers’ rights. State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, questioned the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, on the House Floor.

“There are some religious organizations that do not provide contraception or abortion in their healthcare plans. That is obviously a decision by the employer involving reproductive healthcare. Would that decision open employers up to a human rights violation?” asked Windhorst.

Moeller said she didn’t believe her bill would open employers up to a violation. Windhorst asked about the bill’s application to pregnancy resource centers. Most centers deny abortion access but provide alternatives to women.

“I don’t believe so,” said Moeller. “It is my understanding that organizations that have a religious affiliation would be exempt under the definition of religious organization. If a crisis pregnancy resource center fell under that designation then they would be exempt, if not then they would not be.”

Moeller explained after the Dobbs decision from the U.S. Supreme Court returning regulation of abortion back to the states, there are new needs emerging and Illinois has been committed and is leading the way in ensuring and protecting reproductive rights and bodily autonomy.

State Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, opposed the measure in the Senate. She said under this proposed law, abortion workers at an abortion clinic wouldn’t be able to deny women late-term abortion access, and if they did they’d be hit with a human rights violation.

“You could have workers at an abortion clinic that could be affected by your bill because they were pro-choice but yet they didn’t favor late-term abortions,” said Tracy. “I don’t think that’s the intent of the bill. I think the intent of the bill is to go after the pregnancy resource centers. An abortion worker who would give his or her opinion about late-term abortion could be fired for his or her expression.”

Tracy called the bill a double-edged sword. State Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, said there would not be consideration in exempting pregnancy resource centers who don’t meet the religious organization definition.

“No, this does nothing to impair their First Amendment rights,” said Fine.

Tracy explained there is a right of association under the First Amendment and feared the bill targets businesses or groups that don’t define themselves as “a religious organization” but rather they align themselves with religious beliefs, like pregnancy resource centers.

Tracy mentioned Senate Bill 1909, a measure that was approved by the governor and an initiative of Attorney General Kwame Raoul in the spring session of 2023. Tracy said that initiative’s goal was to go after the centers as well. In December, after months of litigation, the Thomas More Society and Raoul reached an agreement imposing a permanent injunction preventing implementation of the law.

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