ACLU of Illinois Town Hall: The Future of Abortion Rights in Illinois

hi folks my name is khadine my pronouns are she her and hers and i’m the advocacy and intergovernmental affairs director here at the aclu of illinois this weekend president trump announced his nomination for the supreme court vacancy created by just justice ginsburg’s death since then many of us have been getting questions about what this means for reproductive rights health and access in illinois in response we’ve organized this reaper rights pop-up to create a space to answer some of those questions give the lay of the land and highlight what else we can do in illinois you can submit questions during the conversation by putting them in the chat or email or email events at aclu- we’ll try to get to as many of your questions as possible unfortunately we won’t have live captioning available at tonight’s event our sincerest apologies for any issues this may have caused the program will be recorded and the recording will have closed captioning and you could look for it on our website and our youtube channel by early next week at different points during tonight’s event you’ll see links from chelsea if you see a link from chelsea it’s like a gem so please click on it to get more information about whatever it is we’re talking about so let’s get started with a huge thank you to our panelists for making time to be here with such short notice we are joined by four badass women who have used their seats at various tables created their own tables and maybe strategically flipped over a couple of tables to increase reproductive rights health and access we have ann caprara chief of staff for governor jb pritzker we have representative kelly cassidy illinois state rep for the 14th district and we have ameri klafeta aclu of illinois women’s and reproductive rights project director welcome uh bios are in the chat um and uh for panelists when i ask your first question feel free to briefly introduce yourself if you want to say more about you so um we have lots to cover i’m sure you have lots to say so there may be times where i will lovingly interrupt you so we can get to as many questions as possible so people are scared about the nomination of judge amy coney barrett to the supreme court a nominee coming from donald trump who said he would only nominate justices committed to overturning roe versus wade what’s your reaction to the nomination and for rep cassidy starting with you what concerns are you hearing from constituents well as as the lead sponsor of the reproductive health act i’ve certainly been hearing from a lot of people um since since really since the justice’s death um because we did hear that promise from from trump that he would only nominate someone who would be willing to overturn roe uh to be honest with you i’m hearing from a lot of other folks too because so much else is at risk here um i’m hearing from folks who are concerned about their access to health care i’m hearing from folks who are concerned about immigration issues because everything is is at stake at this point but again having sponsored the rha a lot of folks are coming to me asking what do we need to do what’s next how do we protect choice in illinois and the good news is that we’ve done a lot of what we needed to do and thanks to to the governor’s team we were able to what we described is build a firewall around illinois um so that when roe falls and i i’ve you know long time ago i used to say if roe falls and for the last few years i’ve been saying when uh when roe falls we will be able to protect folks rights here in illinois our situation isn’t perfect we’ve still got some more work to be done i’m looking forward to repealing the parental notice of abortion act but we are in relatively good shape here in illinois um we have lots of border folks who are who are looking to us as a safe haven as well and can you share a little bit about the administration’s concerns and your own reaction to the nomination sure and thanks khadine and um the aclu for having me tonight i i mean i will say my first response was despair um i mean i caught i called the governor to give him the news and i think we just both sat there silently for a full minute before and he just uh his words aren’t for polite company but you know there was an immediate reaction there and i think to just echo what what kelly said you know the the for the anti-choice crowd they have been preparing literally for years to get a case in front of the supreme court with the right makeup of justices to overturn roe versus wade and i think for many

of us who have worked in the choice community i started my career at emily’s list that was kind of how i got into politics we feel like we’ve been screaming this to people for for decades really that this was going to happen that this was this was kind of the long-term plan and this strange confluence of events that has really led to it playing out in the last 30 days of a presidential election in such dramatic fashion i don’t think i ever thought in my head that it would look like this um you know i’ve worked in states all over the country and i will say illinois more than any other place i’ve ever been and that is thanks to the incredible work of the pro-choice caucus here inside the house and the senate and all the amazing women um including representative cassidy and others um has done really anticipated this and said okay we have to make sure the laws are set up in such a way that if this happens women in illinois are not going to immediately lose their their ability to um have you know reproductive choice and and healthcare i mean khadine i mean honestly you were in my office i think april of 2019 uh we were sitting around table in my office and you were like look here’s here’s the bill we’re gonna run and here’s why we’re gonna run it and you know i i think it was great we have a community of women in our office who really have a lot of literacy in the choice community and reproductive justice um so it wasn’t you know we didn’t have to have any explanation of why we needed to be supportive of this but it is frightening to me that really states are going to end up having to be the backstop for what is potentially going to happen on the court and i think we can’t underestimate how important that work is on a state-by-state level i’m melinda thank you sorry to be so late oh all good so uh welcome senator melinda bush and chelsea will drop your bio in the chat and we were just getting started about people’s reactions to uh the nomination so i’d go we’ll go to ameri and then come back to you so ameri what were your concerns both as someone who litigates these issues and what have you been hearing from the provider community um sure and first thanks to everybody who’s joined us tonight um so you know this this isn’t exactly a surprise as as representative cassidy said trump said he was going to put justices on the bench who would overturn rose so this isn’t that much of a surprise you know the providers that i talked to in the course of my work um you know they’ve been on the front lines of these fights for a long time so they’re they’re used to the uncertainty and they’re used to the risk but they’re very worried about their patients um you know they they see a lot of people already who come from outside illinois who live in places where it’s already very difficult for them to access care and i think they worry about what’s going to happen to those people and it’s fitting that we’re talking about this tonight because tomorrow is the anniversary of the hyde amendment which restricts federal funding including medicaid funding for people who need abortion care and that’s one of the very practical barriers that people have to overcome if they’re not in illinois which has a lot of protections so i think the provider community is very worried about what happens to folks like that and senator bush do you want to share your reaction to the nomination and what you’ve been hearing from constituents yeah um so i you know i have to say my my first thoughts were really they hearkened back to when representative cassidy and i walked out of the capitol and led the handmaids out to speak and we knew at that moment that it was you know just a moment really a foreboding of what we thought might come um but i just don’t think anybody ever believed we would really really be where we are um every woman that i talk to is terrified is scared cannot believe that this is where we are um look i think we’re gonna have to talk about do we put a firewall up as far as you know um loading the supreme court after biden gets elected please please pray whomever you pray or whatever you pray to um i went to the uh the handmaid’s duty an event in uh the federal at the federal plaza and you know ran into certainly terry cosgrove there and other people that have worked so hard you know in this arena and it really was almost depressing right um it’s very very difficult to find hope right now we know that we have protected a woman’s right to choose in the state of illinois we know that we’ve done that work but how are we going to continue and maybe help other states and what are we going to do as we see the numbers continue to climb women that are going to come here um you know for their

reproductive health care you know how are we going to deal with that um you know i i just look we really have to be talking about how we’re going to move forward um what we’re going to do to really stand up um because i think everybody is truly afraid this is going to happen i i’m sorry you all know i have the potty mouth of the century this batshit woman that has the unmitigated gall um to be using her initials and calling herself the notorious whatever the heck um it’s a very scary time but i think it’s a time for us to really understand though what we did in illinois because just interrupt you for that i think one of the most asked questions on this issue is what happens in illinois well generally what happens if the supreme court overturns roe and for people in illinois what protections would remain in illinois would folks still be able to access reproductive health care including abortions birth control in the morning after pill and uh uh rep cassidy u and senator bush were the sponsors of the reproductive health and access act this was um which is now law and can you probably start by talking about the rha and what protections it provides so go ahead kelly um so the answer to all of khadine’s questions is yes in illinois it it establishes a fundamental right to access to reproductive health care for people in illinois um and and that means that you know while we are going we fully anticipate that you know states all around us are going to start passing all the restrictions that we’ve been fighting off for years those will not be able to affect us um federal law as well it won’t they will not be able to affect us and and that’s great and you know as terry has pointed out we need to make sure that we extend those protections to teen girls so we you know i’m committing here today that that’s you know our work isn’t done we are going to work on uh and and pass the the repeal of the parental notice act um but but truly but the reality and i think khadine and i’ve talked about this in the past and melinda you as well you know people hear things happening either at the federal level or in other states and they think that it’s happening to it here they don’t necessarily know that it’s not happening here and so there’s this chilling effect that will occur for access as well for folks who are going to believe that they’ve lost access um and so they may not seek care and so i think that we also maintain responsibility to ensure that we are constantly communicating and making sure that folks understand that your rights here in illinois are safe yeah and if folks look at the chat chelsea has dropped a couple of things to documents that explains what the rha does and frequently ask questions so we encourage people to circulate that around and this effort was definitely a coalition effort by organizations um who throughout the state and individuals who really pushed hard to to move that legislation senator bush can you talk a bit about the urgency of why we decided to move the legislation when we did especially in light of a lot of legislators who asked the question who said you know you just did house bill 40 medicaid access why do you need to do this now can you share a bit of the urgency of that moment yeah so i would say today is the results of of that moment what we were talking about then um so we really felt that with what was going on throughout the out the country there were states that were passing some of the most restrictive anti-choice bills that we had seen since the 70s really and they were you know taking hold obviously there was a real fight going on we really knew that this was a moment in time that we needed to make sure we moved something forward move something forward now uh we have a president who’s made his position clear and we felt it was so important you know this also protects women as you said contraception requires an insurance pays for contraception for cervical cancer screenings breast cancer screenings those are really important things too but we really felt that moment with what was going on across the country that illinois we wanted to be clear we wanted to make sure that we were communicating that we believe in a woman we believe in her right to make her own his or her rights to make their own reproductive health choices and the time was obviously right to do that i am so so grateful we did that um but it is really clear um that uh i mean today obviously what we did i mean i i’m so grateful i am so grateful because there were so many people as you said khadine that said we just passed um hb40 um that we’ve got you know uh we’ve got that in place and that we don’t need to do anything else those will be the same voices that will tell us today you know

that we don’t need to move forward on the parental uh notice act and we do we need to move forward on that i hope we’re going to do it in veto but you know it was because of everything going on we knew how real it was and boy but we could never have predicted um how real it is in this moment and it certainly did feel like we were you know being accused of crying wolf then definitely oh god yeah i mean many of our colleagues felt that way and can you share some of the steps that this administration has taken to um not just preserve but expand access to reproductive health and share a little bit about why this has been so important for this administration sure well i’d actually like to take a step back and just talk about you know i think one of the things that folks haven’t realized over the last 15 to 20 years in other states what the anti-choice community has done which is to go in and they would approach democratic legislators moderate legislators and they would say oh we know you’re pro-choice but wouldn’t you agree that you know we you shouldn’t have abortions after a certain uh place in your term and wouldn’t you agree that you know it’s just common sense that there should be a 48-hour waiting period and wouldn’t you agree that a woman should have to see an ultrasound before she like and they would couch these these items and these like really like hey i’m just trying to be reasonable i’m not trying to attack choice but i i’m just saying can’t we all agree on these things and what unfortunately happened and i think melinda and kelly have kind of described this and like the conversations you have with some legislators too is this sense of like well you know choice isn’t really under attack we can all agree that these reasonable things should happen but really what that was was an incredibly smart anti-choice strategy to chip away at these rights so that we could come to this point and things would be as precarious as they are so i think the first thing inside the governor’s office just to to help folks understand is you have a governor who one of my favorite things we did during the campaign he has a picture of himself marching in the 1990s um for choice and in dc he’s got his like very bad suit on and a sign for planned parenthood i think and you know you really do have somebody who believes this to his core um and then has surrounded himself uh with people and a lot of women frankly um of all backgrounds and ethnicities and genders and you know world views who believe in this ardently as well i mean we’re very fortunate in that you know we don’t really exist in a state that has the kind of restrictions that you could see in a missouri or mississippi or even in like a pennsylvania um and so for us it’s really just about being supportive of what the legislature is doing um and making sure that we’re following through you know a lot of this access comes through services that we provide to citizens in illinois whether it’s through hfs or um so flores who i know a lot of you know and love who oversees health and human services for the governor is another huge pro-choice advocate um you know so we we have at every point tried to see how we can not just make this easily accessible for the people and the women of illinois but also to the point made earlier that we are going to have folks coming from other states who are going to see illinois as the beacon in the midwest where they can you know get access to safe reproductive health care and we understand how important that responsibility is um and how that has to be safeguarded at every turn by the governor’s office but you know look i think what has really been concerning to me is we’ve grown complacent i mean we just have as a country frankly ladies we have grown complacent and white women i’m looking at you from the last election like you never i i had friends of mine i went to school with suburban philadelphia they’re all in that like you know core swingable area of the philly suburbs and last friday night when justice ginsburg died they’re all texting me going what what can i do and i’m thinking well there was [ __ ] you could have done four years ago but welcome to the party like they’re here’s where you need to give money you need to vote you’re the people you need to vote for i mean you know i think it’s just we really have to realize the moment we’re in i don’t want to overplay it but i don’t want to underplay it either um and understand that we we gotta fight i mean this is not this is not a time where you can sit back and think well things are just gonna be fine and you know to the point about all the other things that the supreme court is going to potentially

i mean we’re looking at an aca case uh healthcare case the week after the election which could mean people losing their healthcare going into the the winter months of this pandemic it means civil rights um there’s already things that the the court has stripped and efforts that we know democrats and a new president would want to make um that wouldn’t stand in a 6-3 court um you know and then of course there’s lgbtqa plus rights that you know they have been fought so hard for and you know now we’re looking at a court that’s going to be hostile to those things so you know i think just being vigilant on all those fronts and realizing that a lot of these fights are going to play out in the states and we have to be ready i mean what are some of the issues coming to the court that could affect abortion rights can you kind of share with the folks who are listening fit into context um you know people talk about the concern that the court might overturn roe and there are you know various state laws that really are designed to go to the supreme court and be a direct challenge and a direct invitation to overturn roe so those are the states that passed abortion bans very early in pregnancy there’s a petition right now to ask the court to hear a case involving mississippi’s abortion ban and those are the types of state laws that are really inviting a direct overturning of roe then the second category of activity that we’re seeing among the states are the things that ann is talking about the kind of chipping away so earlier this year the supreme court decided the june medical services case which struck down a louisiana law that required um abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic you know that decision really turned on a very slender thread with justice robert’s concurrence and there’s really nothing stopping states from continuing to try to pass those and um you know push those through because the decision you know was so narrow um other things that we see are states trying to pass very biased counseling and calling it informed consent we also see states trying to pass bans on dne procedures which effectively um eliminates abortion after a certain point in pregnancy so um though you know those all go to a scenario where the court doesn’t really overturn roe but continues to uphold these types of restrictions in a way that just shrinks access more and more you know the good thing here in illinois is that the rha would prevent against all of those types of laws rha makes it a fundamental fundamental right to access abortion care and laws that attempt to restrict it they have to be very very narrowly tailored they have to meet you know the highest level of review by the court they have to be you know evidence-based and consistent with accepted medical practice so the good news is that the rha protects against that kind of thing but those are the activities that we’re seeing and they’re really designed to push the court and we have a question from allison wanting to know if congress can pass a federal abortion ban that would outlaw abortion in illinois despite the rha so congress can so con federal law can can trump state law you know but the other the other side of that is true and there’s been a federal bill called the the women’s health i’m going to get it wrong i think it’s the women’s health protection act and that bill would do the opposite it would get rid of this patchwork of state laws and you know protect abortion rights nationwide so that your ability to get your health care that you need doesn’t depend on where you live so the opposite is also true and we could look to congress to protect these rights across the country anything to the point of other states where they may not have the same kind of general assembly we do or the same kind of governor that we do we saw some folks from georgia who came to the general assembly in illinois to say uh you all could do it what are you waiting for we need you to do it and the governor met with those folks so did our sponsors um and they were looking to us so i think a few of you mentioned you know what about those other states i think concrete things we can do is show up for them and the way that they showed up for us when we needed a push um there’s a question from uh shannon about whether or not the aclu or partner organizations can put out social media messages they can share about access in illinois that is definitely something that we can do um so even with the passage of laws like the rha and expansion of medicaid coverage to include abortion care those protections are sometimes not fully settled even while a bill is a bill is signed into law and the threat as some of you have talked about isn’t always from a supreme court decision sometimes it’s a federal circuit court or state courts or the legislature or a change

during an election um can you all share some examples of attempts to undermine the protections we have in illinois because i think i think ann’s point about the vigilance and the idea of oh we’re done the rha has been 40 we’re good to go i think it’s helpful for folks to know why it’s important to be vigilant even in a state like illinois uh recasting or senator bush do you want to start yeah so i’m going to let rep cassidy take this because i believe they are in the house where they’ve introduced some of these measures yeah so to to ann’s point from earlier that the last very real restriction threat that we had was when a a more conservative democrat listened to the wouldn’t it be reasonable if and we hadn’t we had an ultrasound mandate and it was getting a lot more momentum than it should it was being given a boost because of who the sponsor was and many of us came together and pushed back and fought um introducing hostile amendments onto the mandate uh to try to weigh it down um mine was the the uh informed consent for viagra um that uh if they yeah before someone could before someone could could uh use uh get a prescription for for viagra they would have to watch a video of the treatment for priapism or the the mythical commercial of the four-hour erection um but we did that both to draw attention to it and to show that we that we were going to fight this that we weren’t going to allow it to just get steamrolled through um every year i mean i i don’t think the ink was dry on the governor’s signature when members of my chamber started to introduce repeals um and yes we have a democratic super majority we have a pro-choice majority in the house and that’s wonderful and that means that we are our own firewall in many ways but you know we thought that when joe lyons ran the the ultrasound bill um you know those moments happen anyway and and if you aren’t vigilant they can continue to happen even in a seemingly pro-choice chamber i mean can you share some of oh share some of this i’m just gonna note how imp and i understand i’m speaking as somebody who works for a guy i love him i tell him i got him in under the wire at this point um but this really does speak to the importance of having women in elected office and i say that because to kelly’s point oftentimes what will happen during the legislative process i watched this happen in congress when we were passing the um affordable care act you know we were down to the wire i was working for a pro-choice democratic woman who was in a republican district in colorado there was a point where the republicans were trying to make a deal with the leadership and the obama administration around the hyde amendment and around choice issues and funding in government and it was patty murray and it was nancy pelosi who stood there and said absolutely not um and that wasn’t a big floor debate you know that was in a room negotiating the bill behind the scenes and i i i just want to go back to this thing that like the anti-choice crowd is is smart you know they they find the little weaknesses the places where they can get you know carve out one little thing that again seems super reasonable um and and then it just has this cascading effect so you know having those people in the room where the decisions are getting made and i i watched the women in the legislature last session you know literally stand up and say you’re going to consider this bill and you’re going to vote on it and we’re going to pass it and you know and i don’t really care what your problem is and i don’t care that you think it’s not the right time or you know that we need to wait a little bit longer like it’s happening now and so you know i think those parts of the process which i think sometimes get lost on people because they think oh you know you pass this bill or you have this president or whatever it is but so many there’s so many chains and links along the way where something can snap and you know you’ve suddenly bargained away something that’s really important that’s a great point andre can you share um some of the things uh you’ve seen in the litigation context in terms of undermining the protections we have in illinois yes so we’ve already seen a lawsuit filed challenging one part of the reproductive health act the reproductive health act requires private insurance coverage of abortion care if the insurance policy also covers pregnancy-related care and we’ve seen a challenge from um

a religious organization and also some private companies a trucking company a dentist who challenged that provision i think a lot of people who are joining us today are probably familiar with the hobby lobby case um where hobby lobby said it didn’t have to provide birth control coverage for its employees this lawsuit is along the same lines it was not at all a surprise to us we expected something like this the hobby lobby case is not at all similar to the situation with the rha but that challenge is ongoing and the attorney general’s office is defending it um we also have seen a lawsuit filed against the healthcare right of conscience act amendments of that were passed in 2016 that our office worked on those amendments make sure that if someone goes to a health care provider who’s not providing them care because of a religious objection that they still are able to get information that they need so that they can go somewhere else and get treatment and they know what’s going on that challenge has been proceeding through the courts it also is being defended by our attorney general our office filed an amicus brief in support of it last fall and just a few weeks ago we got an order from the court short-circuiting the plaintiff the plaintiffs are crisis pregnancy centers short circuiting their attempt to um you know in the case without a trial so the case is still proceeding um you know the court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments and we’re following that one very closely as well but it goes to this need to continue to be very vigilant even after we get the law in place so when some of you started talking about this so going from what’s protected in illinois let’s talk about what still has to be done and what needs to happen to ensure full access to reproductive health care access and coverage uh who would like to start we talked some about the parental notice of abortion act repeal um what are the other things that we need to do in illinois that’s still left on our our pleat melinda yeah well obviously the parental notice i think that’s that’s really the big one um and i think you all know what that is and why that’s important you know it’s um obviously not everyone lives in a family or in a situation where they can talk to their parents about this and uh many times um those parents are abusers and sometimes may have even been the um the the abuser um who impregnated their child or a young person you know i think we still want to make sure that we’re you know moving forward there i know we’re talking about that one you know i don’t know if actually i’m hoping that mara is going to be able to help us here are there things that we need to be tightening up i guess this would be my question from you it for you i think you know you did such a great job last year excuse me here before writing the rha and making sure that you know women are covered that insurance pays um you know that they’re all protected but i’m asking you are there other things we need to do this next year that we should be talking about early on in addition to you know the parental notice act i mean if i could jump in there too though like you know the beauty of the rha is that that foundational reproductive justice framework that that we operate from yet we’re a state with high rates of maternal mortality in particular among women of color we are um we are a state that that does not yet contemplate wow what reproductive justice looks like in terms of what happens after you do choose to go forward with the pregnancy and bring a child into the world are we creating safe communities and quality schools and all of those things so that you can parent well are we accessing ch are providing better access to child care so i think it’s when we start to think about the the spectrum that we find the holes that we have to keep plugging yeah just to add to what kelly just said i mean when we first came into office two years ago one of the big items on the governor’s plate was renegotiating the afscme contract and um we were sitting down to go through everything and the women of the office just kind of collectively it was very odd we all kind of came upon it at the same time uh we’re looking at the state’s um parental leave i don’t know and is frozen and let’s give it a couple of seconds and ameri uh do you want to add while we’re waiting for anne to unfreeze yeah and i do think we are talking about the parental leave really trying to move that forward um this year i know it’s something kelly and i are both really interested in you know i understand there’s a lot more um energy behind that bill this year i hope so that needs to happen

yeah emery can you talk a little bit about religious refusals and like how that’s played out and why that’s an important thing for us to do in illinois to take care of so religious refusals are an area that we really focus a lot of energy on um you know again the issue of somebody who goes to a health care provider to get health care sometimes they show up at an emergency room in an emergency and they don’t get the care that they’re seeking because the health care provider the hospital system has a religious objection to providing that care so we do a lot of work with with respect to that one of the areas that we are continuing to focus on as well related to that is hospital mergers so we’ve seen over the last several years a trend toward hospital systems merging and sometimes these religious restrictions can follow the merger sometimes property is sold and they follow the property so we’re continuing to work on what we can do to raise you know awareness of this issue so that people know where they’re going for their health care and also to see what we can do as these mergers proceed to make sure that public health is still protected in that way you know this issue of the overlap between reproductive rights and religious issues is one of the supreme court confronted the last in the last term as it considered another challenge to the birth control coverage mandate and the affordable care act and the upcoming term the supreme court is hearing a case i think in november um that involves issues of religious liberty it’s the city of philadelphia has a policy of not placing um foster care placements with agencies that um deny placements because the the people are in a same-sex relationship so the catholic charities i think is sued and that case is coming before the supreme court so i think we’ll continue to see a lot of attention um from the court on this issue of the balance between religion and other civil liberties and civil rights great so uh this is uh go ahead melinda yeah i just wanted to ask so i understand too the supreme court it looks like they might be hearing something about the more uh the morning after pill and uh restrictions that would make it very very difficult for us to do telehealth do you know anything about that i know that they have a petition um the one that i know about is not the morning after pill the one that i know about is medication abortion and there was recently a good order that during the um that we got out of a district court that during the public health crisis with covid um the restriction that requires medication abortion to be done in person has been lifted so that they can be done via telehealth and there is a petition pending to try to get that overturned okay one i’m familiar with so um anything kelly you hit a little bit on this but um support for reproductive rights health and access isn’t just limited to access to contraception and abortion it’s tied into other issues as well if folks care about repro issues and they’re here on this call again can you talk a little bit about why they and other people in their community should also care about lgbtq issues or criminal justice and policing reform or pushing for a living wage or paid sick leave and i already kind of touched on it but it like that’s that is our reality um it both that this exists within a framework of reproductive justice and true equality but also quite frankly my beloved siblings the allyship that has gotten us here with communities of color with labor with other other communities like the lgbtq community demands that we be there for them just as they have been there for us and and that’s a piece that that frankly and i think melinda you and i experienced this uh in in the run-up to the passage of the rha was some questions about whether the white women were going to be there for them when they needed us and so i think that’s hugely important that that we recognize the power of that allyship um and and but what it truly means to be allies great and i think i somebody may have highlighted it but the fact that the rha also deals with outside not just contraception abortion but maternity care and the issue of maternal mortality is a huge issue that’s affecting um especially communities of color and so um all of these things are really important because sometimes your ability to survive after you’ve given birth can depend on your access to healthcare on the front end your ability to have paid leave after so um definitely it is all connected um so access to reproductive health and rights can sometimes be seen as a partisan issue

um and it can also sometimes be seen as a religious issue even though folks who access this care come from all parties all religions and just even thinking through my time in springfield for the last 10 years when i first started there were republicans who were pro-choice and for the rha we the legislation was passed with um just democrats so um i guess i’ll start with um you uh senator bush is choice apart is an issue and um i would argue it’s not but can you talk about what’s the role of pro-choice republicans in this work generally and in the moment that we’re in right now yeah so i think we have to continue to reach out i’ll tell you what my experience was um i went to um i literally talked to every republican when i was trying to pass this bill and doing the the pre-work before it got to a vote and literally set a meeting up with every one of them to talk about their position um and i also um you know talked to sorry i’ve got my little computer dinging here um anyway sorry about that um i also went to one of the republics and just said basically so hey are any of you guys over here pro-choice do you think there’s any republicans that are going to be willing to work with me and he said to me do you mean in the state or in the general assembly right and so i said okay got it but when i did have conversations i actually found two that one who absolutely told me that he was pro-choice another who told me that he was basically pro-choice and so i think we need to do some work there i do i think we need to start talking to them about kind of coming out and being willing to talk about these issues because frankly um i see it this way um the republican party is truly imploding and they are so far to the right and i think we have to have members that are really starting to see that and understanding that you know you pointed it out khadine it it used to be i mean under george bush you know title x that these people were pro-choice they didn’t believe it was the government’s right to be involved in a woman’s right to make these decisions so i think we should be trying to find where those connections and agreements are and find ways that we can build on them and find ways to work with them um so i think that’s a a challenge for both kelly and myself i think this um next year and i would say all of us and we really do need to you know as kelly said pretty eloquently we you know we need to build those bridges outside of um ourselves too we understand that the black and brown communities you know have been those communities that have mainly dealt with social social justice issues and you know frankly so many times socioeconomic challenges um where they weren’t able to pay for their health care and there’s just so many issues and i think we have to do a better job of bridging that gap and having those conversations um you know i know it’s something i’m really interested in doing more of i think you know we all know with black lives matter we are trying to listen more than we ever have as you know people that grew up with white privilege um to black and brown people and learn from them so i i really think it’s just time for us to have more dialogue and figure out look they’re really good at finding out where there are places that they can start breaking us apart let’s figure out how we do that to them and let’s find those legislators that we think are willing to start having some of those conversations so um and welcome back we’ve missed you um so can you in addition to talking about the idea of pro-choice republicans and what’s their role in this work can you also talk about the role of pro-choice religious folks how have they been how can they be helpful how have they been helpful in the past and moving forward well let me say this when we’re talking about you know i think the conversation around amy coney barrett has their the republicans went to this like knee-jerk you know you’re you’re going against catholicism i’m a catholic i grew up catholic i went to catholic school i sometimes think that the commentators out there have never met an american catholic uh we are an incredibly diverse group of people um with very different interpretations of our faith i do not care that amy coney barrett is a catholic um i do not care if she is a lovely person or a miserable person i care that she is going to vote to repeal roe vs wade i care that she is going to vote to take away people’s health care i care that she is going to vote against civil rights actions and i vote i care that she’s going to vote to take away the protections that my ld lgbtq plus

a plus friends enjoy right now that’s what i care about i don’t care that she’s catholic i think it’s kind of irrelevant to the conversation um i grew up in a household of republican pro-choice catholics um my when i was in eighth grade my little parochial school used to take all the kids to dc for the pro-life march every year and it was my parents and at the time because i was 12 and i thought it was just a field trip um they were the ones that were like absolutely not you’re staying home you were not going on this and you know i was like gosh this is the end of the world i’m gonna be that kid that doesn’t get on the bus for this thing and years and years later i i actually wrote them a letter thanking them um because you know first of all way too young of an age to be making a decision about how i felt about this but you know they really did kind of protect me and my siblings from influences that we’re trying to kind of get in our brains at a very early time and to melinda’s point i do actually think there are a fair number of republican pro-choice voters legislators elected officials i think unfortunately the environment inside the republican party has made it almost impossible for those folks to come out if you will um and talk about it and vote that way and part of that is a systemic change that needs to happen but look i know we’ve talked a lot about where we kind of are and i think there’s a sense that we all have of inevitability about what might happen around the supreme court choice i don’t want us to be there quite yet because i want people to realize what the next 30 days are going to look like the earliest even if they zoomed through every hearing every step of the process that this woman could stand in front of the senate for a vote is the week before the election now i have lived breathed and died a career on capitol hill and i do not think i could possibly communicate to all the people on this phone what that spectacle is going to look like there are going to be thousands of people in the streets it is going to be impossible to walk anywhere in the capitol without having somebody accost you i do not believe that we know at this point in time what is going to happen does it look good no but like is it time to give up no it’s time to get very loud it is time to talk to your friends and colleagues and you know relatives who live in states who have a republican senator who’s either up for reelection in a month or is up for reelection in two years and to start put putting pressure on them i hear a lot of these pundits out there right now and i’m sure kelly and melinda will back me up on this who are like well these folks know they’re gonna lose so they don’t care there is no legislator alive who believes that they are going to lose until the minute that they are told that they have lost so you know i i really want to just say to everybody don’t give up you know don’t throw in the towel right now there are a lot of republicans and independent voters out there and every poll that we’ve seen has backed this up who hate the way this process is taking shape because it is becoming a character issue for people who said they wouldn’t do this i’m looking at you lindsey graham you know this isn’t this is going to be a real problem for republicans i believe that right now at the battle box and so we can’t just presume at this moment in time that the fight is over that you know we need to just give up and move on i i really do believe that we’ve got to lay it all out on the line and i i do think actually democratic senators and leadership are there they kind of understand the heat that exists in the in the democratic party at the moment particularly amongst women so i i just think it’s important as we look to the political future of this that we get much louder than we probably have ever been and that we encourage all the people i told my friends in pennsylvania i’m like go to pat toomey’s office and just stand outside and you know and even if he doesn’t show up get the local news there and be the woman carrying your kid on tv being like i don’t want to see a supreme court justice chosen this way that stuff matters people watch that so i i do just believe before we kind of say all is lost like that we’ve got to remember um that politics is a very strange business i never thought we’d be sitting here talking about president donald trump so you know we don’t really know what’s gonna happen and my suggestion would be that nobody who cares about this um spend the next month just moping around i think it’s time to you know get really really loud and think about what you can do you know here in illinois

we’re not necessarily a battleground state but you go cast your your mail-in ballot and you know go make calls into wisconsin or or you know go do whatever you need to do in michigan or missouri and other places where potentially we might have a competitive race so they’re just all these things that are really really minnesota democrats reached out to my award organization this week they need help so i think um and and i think you captured there and we’re getting into election one thing that you would want people to take away from this discussion and i think and uh you talked about being loud and not being in despair so um rep cassidy armory and senator bush quickly what’s the one thing you’d want people to take away from today’s conversation fight like you’ve never fought before really don’t be polite amen demand don’t ask yep hottest places in hell is dante sayer reserved for those who in moral crisis maintain their neutrality we ain’t neutral we have a fight on our hands and we have to stand up for ourselves women been doing it for themselves for years we’re going to do it again we have to fight i’m ree i’m going to say i’ve had a lot of people asking me you know the last couple weeks like where is the hope and if people are you know need something to get them keep them going and give them a little optimism you know look at the work that representative cassidy did and senator bush they went to springfield to get the rha done they did they’re going to go back and get parental notice repealed and i think that’s the kind of um action that we need to look at to give us some hope and keep going that’s a good point right because we were dead in the water right like so many people it’s over we’re not going to pay okay maybe next year and we and those those amazing first term women um declared hell no so you’re absolutely right it matters who you send to office it matters send more people that are willing to stand up and fight that aren’t afraid to fight for what they know is right and that’s what illinois did that’s why we had those women that came and fought and said hell no we’re not going home without passing the rha it’s important make sure i mean that’s the one thing make sure you’re helping someone get out there like ann said make phone calls you know reach out to other states you know if you have a tight race in your district where you’re at please make sure you’re helping those people obviously but i gotta tell you i think we’re gonna be okay in illinois right now i’m worried about the rest of the country so if you help in some of those areas do and i would say um and one thank you all for being here you are just amazing examples of what badass women look like in all of the work that you do so really appreciate it um and i would say and some of you mentioned it with the rha it was really difficult like it wasn’t an easy thing for us to do in illinois so while we may have these protections in place um getting them was really difficult we needed a broad coalition we needed leadership in our sponsors supporters and from the governor’s office so um i hope everyone votes make a plan to vote make sure everybody in your community votes we have 34 days until the election i look forward to talking with you all again about uh criminal justice policing post-election rolling up our sleeves and talking about the next steps repealing pna so thank you so much for making the time and it was great to see you thank you uh folks who join and this will be reported and available on our website thank you folks and can i say to you again thank you so much thanks to governor pritzker he was with us the whole way on the rha thank you well and to khadine who honestly has been an amazing advocate it’s a coalition effort so i know but you you came in and you feel like we’re doing this bye everyone you know we see them love you guys thanks a lot bye