Illinois Governor Signs Law Expanding Access to Abortion

June 12, 2019 Updated: June 13, 2019

CHICAGO—Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a sweeping pro-abortion law on June 12.

The new law voids decades-old abortion regulations on the books that had never taken effect because of court orders. For instance, it lifts restrictions on late-term abortions and ends criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions. It also requires insurance coverage for abortions, contraception, and related medical care.

It takes effect immediately.

Pro-abortion supporters in Illinois said they plan to continue pushing for expanded access, including attempting to remove a parental notification requirement. Vermont and Maine have recently approved abortion-friendly laws.

The move in the state where Democrats control the House, Senate, and governor’s office comes as several Republican-majority states have taken up steep restrictions or bans on abortion.

Republicans strongly objected to the Illinois measure, calling it an “extreme expansion.” Their concerns included an increase in late-term abortions.

“Illinois is now one of the most radical states for abortion access,” state Rep. Avery Bourne, a Raymond Republican, said in a statement Wednesday.

The Thomas More Society, a Christian advocacy group based in Chicago, said the law will make Illinois an “abortion destination for the country.” The group said it will fight any efforts to outlaw parental notification.

The Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life group, slammed the legislation and called it the nation’s most extreme abortion law.

Its national campaign chair, Jill Stanek, said in a June 12 statement: “While a growing number of states are working to advance popular pro-life laws, Illinois is trying to outdo New York’s abortion extremism—and unborn children and their mothers will pay the price.”

“The bill Illinois lawmakers passed is so radical, they even went out of their way to repeal the state’s ban on barbaric partial-birth abortions,” she added.

Stanek is a former nurse who witnessed babies being born alive and left to die in Chicago.

“Americans of every political persuasion are appalled by these attempts to expand abortion on demand through the moment of birth and even infanticide, and that in turn is driving pro-life momentum around the country. There is no pride or glory in being the most extreme pro-abortion state in the nation,” she said.

More than half a dozen states have adopted increased restrictions on abortion this year, including a near-total ban signed into law in Alabama last month.

Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio have enacted laws prohibiting abortion once there’s a detectable fetal heartbeat, which could be as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. Missouri passed an eight-week ban, with few exceptions.

By Sophia Tareen. The Epoch Times Staff contributed to this report.

University of Alabama Rejects $26 Million Gift

TUSCALOOSA—The University of Alabama board of trustees voted on June 7 to give back a $26.5 million donation from a philanthropist who recently called on students to boycott the school over the state’s new abortion ban.

Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr., a 70-year-old real estate investor and lawyer, had already given $21.5 million to the university after his pledge last September with the rest still to come. But in a news release last week, he urged students to participate in a boycott of the school.

“I don’t want anybody to go to that law school, especially women, until the state gets its act together,” Culverhouse said in an interview. “You probably shouldn’t put a living person’s name on a building, because at some point they might get fed up and start talking.”

Hours later, Alabama announced it was considering giving back his money, the biggest donation ever made to the university. Within minutes a maintenance crew removed his name from the law school that was named in his honor.

University of Alabama School of Law sign
University of Alabama School of Law sign is seen after employees removed the name of donor Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on June 7, 2019. (Blake Paterson/AP Photo)

While Culverhouse said he has no doubt Alabama is retaliating over his call for a boycott, the university said the dispute has nothing to do with that. Instead, officials say it was in an “ongoing dispute” with Culverhouse over the way his gift was to be handled.

The university said that on May 28, the day before Culverhouse’s boycott call, its chancellor recommended the trustees return the donation. The university said donors “may not dictate University administration” and that Culverhouse had made “numerous demands” regarding the operation of the school.

University administrators and trustees did not respond to requests for comment.

Culverhouse did not attend Alabama, but his parents did, and the business school bears the name of Hugh Culverhouse Sr., a wealthy tax lawyer and developer who owned the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr 2
Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr., right, and wife, Eliza, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., show off T-shirts from the University of Alabama law school, which now bears his name. (Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP)
Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr 1
Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. and his wife, Eliza, look at a portrait of him that will hang in the University of Alabama law school in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Sept. 20, 2018. (Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP)

Culverhouse acknowledged there were some disagreements over the handling of his gift. He said he told university President Stuart Bell that the law school should admit more students and that his donation was to fund scholarships to achieve that. But he said he thought the matter had been resolved.

The Alabama ban would make abortion at any stage of pregnancy a crime punishable by 10 years to life in prison for the provider, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The law, set to take effect in November, is the strongest pro-life measures enacted this year as states emboldened by the new conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court take aim at Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.