Pritzker and Lightfoot Unveil Welcome Mat for Indiana Businesses in Wake of New Abortion Restrictions in Hoosier State

Calling Illinois an “oasis” for abortion rights, Gov. JB Pritzker put up the welcome sign Monday for businesses looking to expand outside of states like Indiana that adopt new abortion restrictions.

Pritzker’s comments came after Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. said it will reevaluate its business in Indiana.

“I have already contacted the affected businesses in Indiana,” Pritzker said. “I want to make sure they know they are welcome in Illinois. Whatever expansion you may be looking to do, we welcome your employees. We treat workers well here and, more importantly, protect their individual rights and the rights of their families.

“Unfortunately, every state around us has now prohibited or significantly limited women’s reproductive rights,” she said at a news conference in Chicago on Monday.

At the same news conference, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said there is a “huge opportunity” for the city and state to reach out to companies like Eli Lilly that have policies “that don’t match up” with some of the states. anti-abortion they operate in.

“Chicago will always be a city that respects women and their choices and makes sure that we and all of them have access to reproductive health care, because it makes sense,” Lightfoot said. “It is right”.

On Friday, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, a Republican, signed into law a sweeping abortion ban, the first of its kind in the nation since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The law, which takes effect on September 15, has exceptions for cases of rape and incest before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.

Lilly and Co., which employs 10,400 people at its Indianapolis headquarters, said the law “will hamper Lilly’s, and Indiana’s, ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world.”

“While we have expanded our employee health plan coverage to include travel for reproductive services that are not available locally, that may not be enough for some current and prospective employees,” the company said in a statement Saturday.

“Given this new law, we will be forced to plan for further job growth outside of our home state,” he said.

Indiana’s ban is also likely to drive more women to Illinois for the procedure, advocates said, possibly increasing wait times.

The Illinois House of Representatives has established a task force to figure out how to improve capacity at abortion clinics. Pritzker, a Democrat, said the state must ensure there are a sufficient number of health professionals for the procedures.

Kristen Schultz, director of strategy and operations for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the passage of Indiana’s new abortion law was “devastating.”

“We are outraged,” he said. “The impact will be significant.”

She hoped that several thousand more women, possibly 10 times more than in the past, might come from Indiana to Illinois for abortions, based on experience with patients from other states that restricted abortion, such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

the higher usage can create longer wait times for services. In southern Illinois, wait times at some abortion clinics increased from three or four days to three weeks.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois, which operates 17 health centers, mostly in the Chicago area, has expanded access to handle the surge, Schultz said.

Previously, the organization performed abortions on about 1,200 out-of-state women annually. In the first month since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and ruled that there was no constitutional right to the procedure, the abortion rate for out-of-state residents increased eightfold.

The ruling and changes in state law create confusion, Schultz said, so some women left their home states even before the bans went into effect.

The net effect, she said, is to create more barriers to access, as more women will have to take time off work, travel and find accommodation or, in some cases, childcare.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, warned that there may be more cases of child predators bringing girls to Illinois for abortions without parental notification being required.

He cited the case of a former high school principal in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who impregnated a 17-year-old high school student, and took her to Planned Parenthood in Chicago for an abortionaccording to press versions of the judicial affidavit.

He also hoped that the courts would not allow Illinois Medicaid will pay for abortions for out-of-state residentsdespite recent efforts to provide that.

An executive order by President Joe Biden last week would allow states to use Medicaid to help pay for abortions for out-of-state residents in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies.

Pritzker’s office did not immediately comment on an Associated Press report that Missouri House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade called on Illinois to apply for Medicaid waivers to do just that.

After the Indiana law passed, area legislators and groups in the Hoosier state reacted along party lines with Democrats reminding people that abortion is still legal for another month and Republicans make it so. hailed as a first step.

State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said the abortion ban “is a starting point for Indiana to become a more pro-life state.”

“While this bill does not protect all babies, it is a step forward for the pro-life movement and provides room for Indiana to continue moving forward. I plan to work on legislation in the next session that would allow pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives to customers. I look forward to a future where there are no unwanted pregnancies by expanding sex education for young people and allowing easier access to contraception,” Charbonneau said.

State Sen. Michael Griffin, a Highland Democrat, said the bill’s passage left him “deeply concerned about the women of our state and the future of Indiana.”

“I am afraid we have elevated a singular position of faith above all others. My faith and beliefs, however sincere and deep, should not be a legal basis for the choices of others. Senate Bill 1 is an imposition on religious freedom and exercise, and a deeply troubling government overreach in people’s most private affairs and decisions,” Griffin said.

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After Roe v. Wade, Holcomb previously said that he “would be willing to support legislation that would make progress in protecting life. “

“These actions followed long days of hearings filled with personal and sobering testimony from citizens and elected representatives on this emotional and complex issue. Ultimately, those voices shaped and informed the final content of the legislation and its carefully negotiated exceptions to address some of the unthinkable circumstances that a woman or unborn child could face,” Holcomb said in a statement Friday.

The Associated Press contributed.

jgorner@chicagotribune.com

rmccoppin@chicagotribune.com

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