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Reproductive rights face increasing threats no matter what actions President Biden takes

President Biden And Vice President Harris Visit The Pentagon
President Joe Biden speaks at the Pentagon on February 10 in Washington, DC.  | Photo by Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

It is incumbent upon us all to ensure that Illinois remains a haven by supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood of Illinois that provide these essential services.

While I am excited for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to usher in a progressive agenda, the crushingly repressive regime in place for the last four years won’t disappear overnight.

Despite significant gains in health care access under the Affordable Care Act, the federal policies of the Trump administration, paired with decreased federal funding, have significantly eroded equal access to health care. Those people most affected by these restrictions are low-income, people of color and undocumented folks, who already face systemic barriers to care due to racist and discriminatory policies past and present.

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For decades, some of Illinois’ neighboring states have been chipping away at abortion access with the goal of pushing safe, legal abortion out of reach. If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned by the current Supreme Court, several of our neighbors have trigger laws that would ban abortion immediately, forcing people to travel longer distances for urgent, essential health care and further straining Illinois’ reproductive health care providers.

Yet this Supreme Court has shown they can deprive women of the protection of Roe v. Wade without using the word “overruled.” Its recent decision to reinstate a medically unnecessary barrier to medication abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic is another reminder of our tenuous grip on reproductive rights.

Health care providers like Planned Parenthood of Illinois play a key role in expanding access by offering comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care to all who need it regardless of race, religion, sex, language, or national or social origin. Every year, we provide essential health care such as cervical cancer screenings, annual wellness exams, birth control, STI testing and treatment and abortions to more than 70,000 patients statewide.

For access to this comprehensive health care to be meaningful, it must be funded without regard to a patient’s ability to pay. However, in 2018, the new Domestic Gag Rule enacted by the Trump administration forced Planned Parenthood out of the Title X family planning program. This significant loss placed unexpected burdens on safety net providers like PPIL, forcing us to seek new funding to offset these losses so that we could continue to provide uninterrupted access to the care our patients rely on and deserve.

While Illinois remains a haven state in the Midwest, the reality is that reproductive rights face increasing threats no matter what actions President Biden and Vice President Harris take. And that is why it is incumbent upon us all to ensure that Illinois remains a haven by supporting organizations like PPIL that provide these essential services.

Emily Nicklin, Planned Parenthood of Illinois Board Chair

Rename a school to honor the late Karen Lewis

If there was ever a person who demanded change, equity and fought for the rights of the non-1% people, it was former Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and she got it. I knew Karen from working around her for two years at Lane Tech back in the late ‘90’s, and while we were just acquaintances, I was a fan of hers for going up to bullies and confronting them both in person or in the media.

Let’s hope a Karen Lewis Math and Science Academy is in the works to replace one of the CPS schools named after slaveowners, as reported by Lauren Fitzpatrick of the Sun-Times.

It would be a well-deserving honor for Karen for the things she accomplished as a teacher, student advocate and president of the CTU.

A perfect nickname for the school would be “Redbirds” as the red bird is often considered a sign of compassion, passion, pride and love. It represents traits like intuition, love, grace and focus. Seeing this red bird may indicate things like power, survival, security, leadership and intentions. And, the colors would also be those of the CTU that Karen led to some of the biggest labor wins versus a city government of “nobody, nobody sent” insiders.

Rest in peace, Karen.

Walter Brzeski, Dunning

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