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LETTERS: Female Asian-American leaders urge Rauner to sign abortion bill

Kayla Forshey, left, participates in a rally to condemn Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's remarks about women and abortion in March 2016 in New York. | Mary Altaffer/AP

Today, eight prominent Asian-American women leaders sent a letter to Governor Rauner asking him to sign House Bill 40, a bill passed earlier this year by the Illinois legislature that would protect the legal right to abortion in Illinois and lift the ban on abortion coverage for low-income people in the state.

Illinois has the largest Asian-American population in the Midwest and the fifth largest in the nation. As the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are deeply invested in our shared future.

When abortion is pushed out of reach or pregnancy is criminalized, AAPI women are disproportionately harmed. One need only consider the heartbreaking prosecutions of Purvi Patel and Bei Bei Shuai to see how Asian-American and immigrant women are targeted. Moreover, several states have targeted AAPI women for racist abortion bans, as seen recently in Arkansas. We will not be silent as restrictions on abortion are used to deny care to our community.

Research shows that restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces one in four poor women seeking abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Nationally, 27 percent of AAPI people are enrolled in public health insurance programs such as Medicaid. Governor Rauner has an opportunity to lift a ban that denies coverage to people enrolled in Medicaid and protect the health of AAPI women.

Today, Americans are more supportive of legal abortion than ever. Polling from Pew Research Center in late 2016 showed the highest levels of support for legal abortion since 1995. These trends are also true for the AAPI community: 74 percent support keeping Roe v. Wade.

The state of Illinois has a bright future ahead of us, and AAPI women and families are an inextricable part of that future. Why jeopardize our health and our shared future by denying our basic rights? It’s time for Governor Rauner to set aside the politics, consider our shared future, and sign HB 40.

State Rep. Theresa Mah, Chicago
Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum 

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City has more pressing issues than Balbo

Thirty-three people shot, 7 fatally, in a 13-hour period last Saturday and Sunday, and the mayor and city council are concerned about renaming Balbo Drive. When are they going to get a clue? Maybe after we replace them in the next election.

Mike Kirchberg, Little Italy