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Advocates Praise Gov. Rauner Signing Bills Protecting Women's Health

Advocates say two new laws will help protect health-care options for women in Illinois. (iStockphoto)
Advocates say two new laws will help protect health-care options for women in Illinois. (iStockphoto)
August 2, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Some Illinois reproductive-rights advocates are claiming a win after Governor Bruce Rauner signed new laws aimed at improving women's access to health care. One of the new laws, House Bill 5576, requires that insurance companies in Illinois have to provide coverage for nearly all forms of birth control. That law goes into effect at the start of next year. Currently, coverage is limited to just a few options for contraception.

Lorie Chaiten heads up the ACLU of Illinois' Reproductive Rights Project. She said women who have had to try out multiple forms of birth control have been negatively affected because of out-of-pocket costs and stress on their bodies.

"The insurance companies cannot make me wait months and months before I can get the contraception that my doctor said will be best for me in terms of my health and my well being, and in terms of avoiding unintended pregnancy," she said.

The bill also requires insurance companies to provide 12 months of birth control at one time. The new law was opposed by anti-abortion groups.

Rauner also approved a new amendment to the state's Health Care Right of Conscience Act. That move will now require Catholic hospitals to tell patients where they can get services that would go against church teachings. Chaiten argues the bill balances the needs of patients and religious health-care providers.

"Under our new law, patients will be told about all of their options, and then they will be able to make their own health-care decisions based on full information," she added. "Health-care providers who have religious objections to providing certain kinds of health-care services can continue to raise those objections."

According to the ACLU, Catholic hospitals provide more than a quarter of hospital admissions statewide. Chaiten said the new law will cut down on medical costs for both patients and the state by lowering the number of doctor visits.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL