Forest Park’s village council voted unanimously Sept. 12 to approve a resolution urging the state government to declare Illinois an abortion sanctuary state.
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision striking down the legal precedent established by Roe v. Wade, states were free to implement abortion restrictions. Since then, Illinois has seen a surge of out-of-state patients seeking abortions, with many coming from neighboring Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin. As some state legislatures weighed pursuing legal penalties against residents seeking out of state abortions, there has been a push to ensure that Illinois law enforcement agencies don’t cooperate with such investigations.
The Chicago City Council is expected to consider a measure applying this prohibition to the entire city during its Sept. 21 meeting.
The Forest Park village council resolution is asking the state to adopt something similar Illinois-wide. During the Sept. 12 meeting, the council’s two female commissioners said it was important that Illinois remains a safe haven for those seeking abortions, saying that protecting this right is part of their duty as elected officials.
The Forest Park resolution called on the state legislature to introduce a bill “to protect the right to and all reproductive healthcare to the fullest extent possible, including prohibiting law enforcement from aiding in investigations related to seeking or performing abortions on warrants issued by neighboring jurisdictions.”
Commissioner of Public Health and Safety Maria Maxham and Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd were the only elected officials to comment during the meeting.
Maxham said that, while the village council doesn’t usually consider resolutions on issues of national significance, this one was important.
“With women’s rights being eliminated in many states, it is imperative that here in our state, we keep the safe place where women have the legal right that should be their human right, but is not in a lot of places,’ she said. “And it sends the message to all the women who are listening, that we want you to retain control over your body in any situation.”
Maxham also said the right to choose affects women’s ability to get and keep jobs.
“Allowing reproductive rights means that we’re one step closer to closing the gender gap that still persists in this country,” she said.
Voogd said since “here in the Midwest, Illinois has become sort of an oasis right now for reproductive healthcare access and protection,” it was important to keep it that way.
“I took an oath of office, and I take that oath very seriously, and it demands that we stand together and protect the rights of all citizens, to join the voices of our residents and neighboring communities in asking legislators to ensure that Illinois will continue to protect our fundamental rights,” she said. “And I just want to say that I can’t, in good conscience, stand by and watch the next generation of young people grow up with less rights than our generation.”
Two years after the Roe v. Wade decision, in 1975, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Abortion Law which, most notably, would have banned all abortions unless they were necessary to save the life of a mother. It also made abortions illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The trigger law was repealed in 2017, and, in 2019, the General Assembly codified a right to an abortion and removed the 12-week limit.
Following the Dobbs decision, several states, including Indiana and Missouri, implemented near-total bans on abortion. The legality of abortion in Wisconsin is currently being litigated, but it is de facto unavailable because all abortion providers closed their doors out of fear of prosecution.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul consistently voiced support for abortion rights. In the wake of the Dobbs decision, he released legal guidance outlining what is allowed under state law. On July 8, Raoul issued a statement supporting legalizing abortion at federal level.
‘“Notwithstanding the protections in Illinois, I support the president’s call for federal legislation reestablishing a fundamental right to abortion nationwide,” he said. “I remain committed to enforcing existing reproductive health protections in Illinois law and working with Illinois policymakers to expand protections under state law.”
In a statement released July 6, Raoul’s Republican opponent, Tom DeVore, said he would enforce existing state laws “until such time as the people through their legislature instruct me to act otherwise.”
“As your next Attorney General, my personal opinions on this, or any topic for that matter, will have no bearing on my role as the chief legal officer of the people,” he said.