Women's economic security depends on you, Gov. Rauner
September 05 2017

K. Sujata
Crain’s Chicago Business

As I write this, one in two female-headed households in Illinois is just one emergency away from total poverty. That emergency could be the loss of a job, an illness, or an unplanned pregnancy, derailing years of work toward stability and eliminating any chance of economic mobility.

Women’s economic security depends on their ability to plan their families. At Chicago Foundation for Women, we know that reproductive choice is critical to the success of the 69,000 women we serve. That’s why we only fund organizations that are committed to choice.

House Bill 40 protects reproductive choice in Illinois by ensuring that abortion continues to remain safe and legal in Illinois, no matter what. But HB40 also removes restrictions on reproductive health care coverage that put women’s economic security at risk.

Under current policy, women who rely on the state for health insurance through Medicaid or state employee plans are often denied coverage for reproductive health care available to women with private insurance. House Bill 40 does away with this double standard and ensures that a woman can make her own decisions about her health, regardless of how much money she makes, who she works for, or where she lives.

When politicians deny coverage for abortion care, it is low-income women who suffer most.

Over 215,000 Illinois women are covered by Medicaid. Approximately half of all births to women covered by Medicaid and public insurance are unplanned. We know that for some these mothers, the financial realities of paying for abortion care out-of-pocket meant they had no reproductive choice. One in four poor women seeking an abortion is forced to carry her pregnancy to term due to lack of insurance coverage. Every woman’s circumstances are different, but where a woman works or how she receives health care coverage shouldn’t dictate her decisions about her health. Women who are denied an abortion are more likely to fall into poverty when compared to women who have access to care.

Women who pay for abortion care out-of-pocket put themselves at risk doing so: 1 in 3 womenreport delaying bills — including skipping rent and food — in order to afford care.

No one should have to make a choice between keeping food on the table or getting safe, quality care. We all want every family in our communities to be happy, healthy and secure. In order for women and their families to achieve full economic security, all women in Illinois must be able to make the important decision of when to start or grow their family, with equal access to the full range of reproductive health care.

I strongly urge Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign HB 40 into law.

Read the original Op-Ed here.