By Tisha and Vageesh, Spring Internship Communications Team
The General Assembly wasted no time passing important legislation when they returned to Springfield for January’s lame duck session. These laws will save lives, and Rep. Didech was proud to co-sponsor both of these important initiatives.
Gun safety measures: During the lame duck session, the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker passed the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” to help reduce gun violence deaths in our state. The law bans the sale and distribution of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches in Illinois — effective immediately. It also empowers the Illinois State Police to work with federal agencies to crack down on interstate gun traffickers. The features of the bill proved to be a hugely popular bill across the state, with significant numbers of District 59 residents calling and writing to our office to voice their support.
Citizens may lawfully keep the now banned firearms if they register them with the government and if they hold a FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) card. The bill also changed the eligibility age of holding a FOID card to 21 years of age. Any magazines owned prior to the ban may be kept but used and possessed only under certain conditions, such as on shooting ranges or private property. Owners of magazines must notify the state police to transfer them to any heirs, out-of-state individuals, or licensed firearm dealers.
Reproductive Healthcare: Legislators also passed the “Patient and Provider Protection Act” in January, putting in new protections for women and healthcare workers. Its passage will help ensure that all individuals can make their own healthcare decisions and access the care they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
To remove long-standing barriers to accessing abortion care: Under the new law, Illinois residents are guaranteed the right to access abortion care without interference from the government. This means that the state can no longer impose restrictions that pose barriers for individuals to access the care they need, such as waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, or restrictions on insurance coverage. The package also expanded Medicaid coverage for reproductive healthcare, requiring Medicaid to cover the full range of contraceptive methods and abortion care without cost-sharing. It also expands the Reproductive Health Care Act to include protections for assisted reproduction, such as IVF.
To expand and strengthen provider capacity in Illinois: the law provides protection for healthcare workers from disciplinary action in Illinois if they are punished for performing abortions in other states, and it creates a temporary license for out-of-state healthcare workers. It also allows advanced practice nurses to perform abortions that don’t require general anesthesia.
It also protects patients, providers, and witnesses from litigation and prosecution because of lawful healthcare that takes place in Illinois. The law includes measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of individuals seeking reproductive healthcare services. With this law, employers & insurance companies are prohibited from interfering with an individual’s decision to use contraception or obtain an abortion. It also prohibits the sharing of an individual’s medical information without their consent.
As Governor Pritzker noted upon signing the bill into law, “Every individual deserves the right to make their own decisions about their body, their family, and their future.” With this legislation, Illinois is taking a critical step forward in protecting and promoting reproductive healthcare for all.