CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed a law to let voters weigh in on whether prescription insurance programs should be required to include birth control. The question will now appear on the November 4th General Election ballot. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure that all women in Illinois have full access to healthcare.
“A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has again brought the issue of women’s rights to the forefront,” Governor Quinn said. “I think Illinois’ voters will agree that healthcare is a human right, and the Affordable Care Act is meant to give all Americans access to decent, affordable healthcare. That means full access to medical treatment for every woman in America, regardless of who they are or where they work. Women should be able to make their own healthcare decisions. This referendum will help continue the progress we’ve made to protect and empower women in Illinois.”
House Bill 5755, sponsored by State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), creates an advisory referendum on November 4 asking whether any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage should be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage.
“The firm commitment Illinois has made to women’s health is now at risk, and it’s the perfect time to give the voters of this state the opportunity to make their voices heard,” Senator Martinez said. “This referendum is critical in determining our ability to fight for our values in the face of attempts to roll back the hard-won advances women have made in the workplace and in society.”
"The ongoing attacks on women's access to healthcare have made more than clear that there is a coordinated and focused plan to turn back the clock on women's healthcare rights,” Representative Cassidy said. “Today we are asking women and the men who care about them to send a loud and clear message that healthcare decisions are between a woman and her doctor, not her employer."
Today's action comes following the June 30 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. That decision ruled that birth control measures can be excluded from employer-provided prescription drug coverage if such coverage is in opposition to the employer's religious beliefs.
Governor Quinn has long supported equal pay, opportunity, protection and empowerment for all women. Recently lauded as “The Most Women and Child Friendly Governor in the US,” Governor Quinn has been a staunch advocate for women and women’s health issues.
During the last legislative session the Governor led passage of House Bill 8, which will protect moms-to-be in the workplace. The bill will provide pregnant women with important worker protections such as limits on heavy lifting and assistance in manual labor; access to places to sit; more frequent bathroom breaks; time off to recover from childbirth and break space for breast-feeding. House Bill 8 currently awaits the Governor’s signature.
The Governor recently launched an innovative Birth-to-Five Initiative focused on three keys to a healthy child: prenatal care for all expecting mothers, access to early learning opportunities and strong parent support.
The Governor also fought for and signed a law amending the Equal Pay Act to give victims of underpayment more time to address their claims. He is leading the charge to increase the state’s minimum wage to at least $10 per hour – six in ten minimum wage workers in Illinois are female. In the Governor’s 2014 State of the State address, he proposed a minimum of two days of earned sick leave per year for 2.5 million Illinois workers, 78 percent of whom are women, who have no sick leave.
Governor Quinn also supports the Illinois Healthy Women program to provide family planning and other services such as physical exams, pap smears, lab tests, testing and medicine for sexually transmitted infections and sterilization to women without health coverage.