Lightfoot pledges $500,000 to help pay for women needing abortion care

The mayor, other city and state leaders vow to fight potential overturning of Roe v. Wade

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Felicia Davis Blakley, president of Chicago Foundation for Women, signs as “Justice for All” pledge during a news conference Monday at City Hall.

Felicia Davis Blakley, president of Chicago Foundation for Women, signs as “Justice for All” pledge during a news conference Monday at City Hall.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a host of other city and state leaders on Monday vowed to fight the U.S. Supreme Court’s potential decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, pledging $500,000 to help women in Chicago and beyond in need of abortions.

“We are ready, and we are ready to fight,” Lightfoot said speaking to reporters at City Hall. “We are ready to organize. We are ready to do whatever it takes. We will not stand idly by and watch our rights disappear like smoke.”

The money, coming from the Chicago Department of Public Health, could help women get to and from abortion providers, pay for lodging, as well as provide money for follow-up treatment, the mayor’s office said.

A draft opinion of the high court’s decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, was obtained by Politico; it would overturn the landmark case that upheld the right to abortion for nearly half a century.

Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Michigan are among 22 states that already have laws or constitutional amendments in place that would make them certain to ban abortion as soon as the 1973 case is reversed, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Indiana and three others are likely to ban abortion without federal protections in place.

Illinois in 2019 established in state law the right to reproductive health care, including abortion — a measure put in place just in case the landmark Supreme Court case was overturned.

“When every state that borders Illinois bans or so severely restricts abortion as to make it impossible, millions of people will find themselves in a vast abortion desert, and that’s where Illinois comes in as the oasis for care,” said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, one of those who attended the news conference with Lightfoot.

In anticipation of the high court overturning Roe, Planned Parenthood of Illinois is “preparing to see double to five times the number of patients that we currently see for abortion care,” Welch said.

Amy Gehrke, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, said the city should have other priorities.

“At a time when violence in the city of Chicago is spiraling out of control, it is mind-boggling that Mayor Lightfoot is putting more taxpayer money towards the violence of abortion. … ,” Gehrke said. “Illinois’s abortion laws are completely out of step with mainstream public opinion and endanger women. Mayor Lightfoot clearly cares more about pleasing the abortion industry than she does protecting women and preborn babies.”

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