State Lawmakers are Safeguarding Abortion Rights

“It is not a question of if Roe v Wade will fall,” Terry Cosgrove told Ms., “but when.”

The president of pro-choice organization Personal PAC of Illinois, which has been leading the charge to safeguard reproductive rights in the state, celebrated a major victory in their fight to prepare for that worst-case scenario Thursday when Gov. JB Pritzker (D) signed the state’s Reproductive Health Act into law.

(Lori Shaull / Creative Commons)

The RHA in Illinois wiped away the state’s “trigger laws,” which would have limited reproductive freedom in a post-Roe landscape, did away with spousal consent policies and scrapped mandatory waiting periods for abortion patients as well as the medically inaccurate mandates providers were forced to comply with before they could care for them. It established that “bodily autonomy” is a woman’s fundamental right—and it requires private insurance policies to cover the expenses of abortion just as insurance covers any other medical procedure.   

But the fight is far from over. “[The right-wing] will never be satisfied,” Cosgrove, who has been the president of Personal PAC for 30 years, told Ms., “until they’ve taken away abortion and birth control from all women.” 

Even in states with Democratically-led legislatures like Illinois, lawmakers are contending with extreme assaults on abortion access. In a twist of fate, the abortion bans passed in states like Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Louisiana in the past month helped Illinois’ RHA cross the finish line: After an overwhelming number of calls and emails from constituents, and a group of about 100 “handmaids” who stood in silent protest outside the Capitol in Springfield, Illinois legislators voted on the measure, reversing their previous intention to table the legislation.

“Given the emergency we are in,” Cosgrove added, that kind of action is as critical as ever. Now that the “mask is gone,” and the truly extreme agenda of anti-abortion forces has been revealed, building firewalls for women’s rights—like those now in place in Illinois, New York, Nevada and Vermont—it’s also the only way forward.

“State by state, we have to protect reproductive rights,” Cosgrove declared, “and we now have a roadmap.”  


Sheila Markin Nielsen is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and author of The Markin Report, a blog on the right side of history and the left side of politics making sense of a world turned upside down.