Policymakers in Democratic-led Illinois and Republican-led Indiana are heading in very different directions on the issue of abortion.
On Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the state's new Reproductive Health Act, establishing a fundamental right for a pregnant woman to decide whether to give birth or have an abortion, while limiting the state's ability to "deny, interfere with or discriminate against" that right.
Senate Bill 25 also requires public and private health insurance policies to include coverage for abortion, and mandates that any state regulations on contraception, abortion or maternity care be narrowly tailored to protect health and consistent with accepted medical practice standards.
"In a time when too many states across the nation are taking a step backward, Illinois is taking a giant step forward for women’s health," Pritzker said at the Chicago bill signing ceremony.
"When it comes to contraception, abortion and reproductive care, this law puts the decision-making where it belongs: in the hands of women and their doctors."
State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, sponsor of the new statute, said it "sends a clear message that we trust women to make their own decisions.
"Women can now rest assured that regardless of what happens at the federal level, they will have access to comprehensive reproductive health care here in Illinois," Bush said.
Meanwhile, in Indiana, Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. said Wednesday on Hammond's WJOB-AM radio that he's hoping for a favorable ruling soon, from a federal court in Indianapolis, on the constitutionality of a new abortion restriction enacted in April by Hoosier lawmakers.
House Enrolled Act 1211 prohibits dilation and evacuation abortions, which the law calls "dismemberment abortion," except when a woman otherwise would suffer "substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function." The act takes effect July 1 absent a court injunction.
The procedure is considered by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to be the safest method for completing an abortion after 13 weeks of pregnancy. It was used in Indiana 27 times in 2017 out of 7,778 total abortions, according to state records.
However, Hill contends the procedure is "brutal and unnecessary" because it requires a live fetus to be pulled apart with scissors or other tools in the womb prior to removal, and other methods of terminating a pregnancy are available.
"It's a regulation that has a particularly narrow focus and does not challenge someone's decision to get an abortion," Hill said.
He noted that's different from new laws recently enacted in Alabama and Georgia that severely restrict abortion access in the hope of triggering the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
"We have to be careful with the approach that's coming out of states," Hill said. "Alabama and Georgia are very aggressive in their process; that doesn't necessarily mean that the Supreme Court is going to follow suit."
"The better practice is a piece-by-piece process," he continued. "I think the way that we do it here in Indiana is very effective in the sense that we look at the ability of the state to regulate the procedure."