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Democrats from B-N say state needs to protect providers and its abortion laws after SCOTUS ruling

Karla Bailey-Smith, left, and Sharon Chung are running for the Democratic nomination for 91st House District, which includes parts of Bloomington-Normal.
Karla Bailey-Smith, left, and Sharon Chung are running for the Democratic nomination for 91st House District, which includes parts of Bloomington-Normal.

Two Bloomington women running for the Illinois House say they’re devastated and sickened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – and that the state needs to act to protect healthcare providers and fortify its laws permitting abortion.

Sharon Chung and Karla Bailey-Smith are running in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 91st House District, which includes much of Bloomington-Normal. The winner will face the winner of the Republican primary between Normal Town Council member Scott Preston and former Unit 5 school board member Jim Fisher of Hudson.

“It’s devastating, even though we all knew this decision was coming down,” Chung said. “Personal medical decisions should be made between women and their doctors. Period. I don’t think politicians or judges have any place in those fundamentally private decisions. And here in Illinois, it’s really important that these choices remain legal.”

Bailey-Smith said the state’s top priority now must be to protect and support all providers who offer reproductive healthcare – and the laws that still permit abortion in Illinois.

“Of course, we’re only going to be able to protect our laws – the Reproductive Health Act, for instance – as long as we have a Democratic majority in Springfield,” she said.

If Chung or Bailey-Smith win in November, it would be the first time in recent history that a Democrat has represented Bloomington-Normal in the legislature.

Meanwhile, the McLean County Democrats in a statement noted that Republicans are pushing to make abortion illegal in states across the country.

“It is more important than ever to elect those Democrats who value the rights of women and will fight to protect those rights. Every Republican candidate for governor in Illinois has pledged to remove protections for a women’s right to choose if elected. They would have the support of all local Republicans if elected this fall,” the McLean County Democrats said.

Nikita Richards of Bloomington is a former chair of the McLean County Democrats. She now serves on the Planned Parenthood of Illinois board of directors. She says, as of today, laws in Illinois have implications beyond far beyond state lines.

“Illinois is prepared to see approximately 20 times more out-of-state abortion patients than we have ever seen,” Richards said.

Richards says Illinois is now an island in a sea of states where abortion will be restricted.

“We’re looking at 26 states that will quickly move to ban or severely restrict abortion, including every state that borders Illinois. And so people will suddenly find themselves in an abortion desert.”

Gov. JB Pritzker is asking for a special session of the state legislature to address Friday’s ruling.

In response to Friday’s ruling, the Illinois Republican Party said “prayers have been answered.”

“Our country is deeply divided right now, and while I support this decision, I know this ruling will potentially make that division worse, at least in the short term, and many irresponsible people will stoke that division,” said Illinois GOP chair Don Tracy. “I implore all Illinoisans to express their opinions with respect, civility, and without violence.”

The two House Republicans who represent Bloomington-Normal praised the Supreme Court decision.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville called it an “important victory for Life and the unborn in the United States of America.”

Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria quickly turned his focus to state-level policy in Illinois.

“Governor Pritzker continues to push his radical abortion agenda in Illinois, which includes late-term and taxpayer-funded abortion, restrictions on conscience protections, and limits on parental involvement. The governor’s policies are widely outside the mainstream. I will continue to lend a voice to the voiceless and push to enact pro-life protections that uphold the sanctity of life and support mothers and families,” LaHood said in a statement.

Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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