My plan for reproductive rights includes:
Protecting full reproductive rights
Establishing thorough reproductive health education programs
Creating a robust support network for at-risk youth
A woman's right to choose
Over the last four decades, we have made great strides toward the goal of expanding women's reproductive freedom. These have ranged from the landmark United States Supreme Court right-to-privacy cases Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade to grassroots efforts to expand availability of counseling and comprehensive medical care to low-income women. Today, a clear majority of Americans support a woman's right to choose.
Experience has taught us that the best way to keep abortion safe but rare is to combine pro-choice laws with broad reproductive health education programs. Unfortunately, both of these policies are currently under attack by right-wing organizations, threatening women's autonomy and physical well-being alike. I am acutely sensitive to this issue and I pledge to lead the fight in Springfield to protect women's reproductive freedom.
State government: the new front line
In 2003, President Bush signed a Republican-backed bill to ban late-term abortion, even though this law incorrectly asserts that this procedure is "unnecessary to preserve the health of the mother". Advocates on both sides of this issue agree that this is merely the first of a series of attempts to chip away at a woman's legal right to choose. I recognize that this means that state governments are now the front line in this critical fight. I look forward to working in Springfield to preserve women's rights in Illinois.
Protecting young women in Illinois
An Illinois law passed in 1995 forces teens in our state to consult either their parents or a judge when considering an abortion. While such a discussion is of course desirable in any healthy family, the sad truth is that too many teens come from homes that are marred with violence, abuse, or neglect. These young women are then forced to choose between an illegal abortion and an intimate discussion with an abusive parent. Neither option is safe or healthy.
Rather than address the difficulties that arise in dysfunctional family situations, right-wing legislators choose to write laws that pretend that these difficulties do not exist. On the other hand, I want to create a robust support network for at-risk youth, while at the same time passing laws that are sensitive to the difficult realities that some of our young women must face.
One important component of this support network is exposure to comprehensive, responsible, age-appropriate sex education. Research shows that an overwhelming majority of Illinois parents want their children to have access to such curricula, which have been conclusively demonstrated to reduce rates of teen pregnancy as well as the spread of STDs. Legislation that would afford opportunities for local schools and community groups to provide such instruction has been introduced in the Illinois Senate, but so far it has languished. I will work hard to encourage all Illinois schools to provide responsible age-appropriate sex education that will help protect Illinois teens from pregnancy and disease.