Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has approved a November referendum that will ask voters if they think birth control should be included in insurance plans. His hope is that his constituents disagree with the Hobby Lobby decision. The governor said,
A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has again brought the issue of women’s rights to the forefront. I think Illinois’ voters will agree that healthcare is a human right, and the Affordable Care Act is meant to give all Americans access to decent, affordable healthcare. That means full access to medical treatment for every woman in America, regardless of who they are or where they work. Women should be able to make their own healthcare decisions. This referendum will help continue the progress we’ve made to protect and empower women in Illinois.
The birth-control referendum bill, House Bill 5755, is sponsored by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago). Sen. Martinez says,
This referendum is critical in determining our ability to fight for our values in the face of attempts to roll back the hard-won advances women have made in the workplace and in society.
Gov. Quinn also has a history of supporting women’s rights and feminist ideals. In August of 2013, he signed a law to guarantee comprehensive sex education in Illinois public schools, and he led the passage of House Bill 8 to protect expectant mothers in the workplace. He also launched a Birth-to-Five Initiative that focused on prenatal care, access to early learning and parental support. Quinn also supports the Illinois Healthy Women program to provide reproductive and other health care services to women without health insurance.
Thank you, Gov. Quinn, for these important initiatives. And we hope the voters will agree with you that health care is a human right.
Simone Lieban Levine is a rising junior at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an intern for Ms.