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Illinois and Nevada Pass Laws to Protect Abortion Rights in Wake of Statewide Bans

States are taking proactive steps toward protecting reproductive justice.

Abortion rights protest sign

Illinois and Nevada took steps towards protecting reproductive rights and keeping abortion access safe. In Illinois, the Reproductive Health Act protects the “fundamental rights of individuals to make autonomous decisions about one’s own reproductive health,” declaring that abortion is a “fundamental right” and a “fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights.” The bill passed in the state senate and is expected to be signed by Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker. The bill also repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, and requires insurance companies to cover the procedure.

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In Nevada, a similar bill was just signed by Democratic governor Steve Sisolak. the Trust Nevada Women Act removes criminal penalties for doctors and decriminalizes abortion drugs and procedures. It also repeals a law requiring doctors to counsel pregnant patients on the “emotional implications” of abortion, as well as a requirement to verify the patients’ age and marital status. The bill was written by the Nevada Assembly, the first ever majority-female state legislature.

Sisolak said of the bill, “I have been disappointed by the recent uptick in efforts in other states to restrict women’s right to choose, and I am especially proud today to be a Nevadan, where we protect a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body.”

This move by Nevada and Illinois is a long awaited rebuke of the sweeping abortion ban bills that have passed across the Southern states. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and others have rammed through a series of draconian abortion bills, most of which do not allow exceptions for rape and incest. Missouri was about to see its last abortion clinic shut down before a judge granted a reprieve.

These bills are part of a concerted effort to force the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade, a plan that has been in the works since the case was first decided in 1973. Anti-abortion activists have been emboldened by the Trump administration, as well as the appointment of two conservative judges to the Supreme Court.

The bills also raise an interesting debate regarding reproductive justice. Democrats are so often playing defense in the face of these abortion bans. Why not follows these states’ proactive steps to not only combat bans, but propose and pass laws that protect reproductive rights? 23 states have democratic governors in office, although one of those democrats is Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards, who signed the state’s latest abortion ban.

Of those 23 states, 14 have a democratic trifecta, with a Democratic majority in all three branches of state government. Those states should follow Nevada and Illinois’ example in enshrining states rights.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said as much in a joint statement with Democratic Govs. Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington, saying “In the absence of federal leadership on this issue, states must step up and put in place their own protections — both in statute and in their state constitutions, and through the expansion of family planning and education — to defend every American’s right to reproductive freedom.”

(via CNN, image: Rena Schild /

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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