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Danville may pass an ordinance restricting abortion, but the ACLU of Illinois is prepared to fight back

A Danville resident holds a sign which reads "No abortions in Danville" outside of the proposed abortion clinic in Danville on Monday, March 27.

DANVILLE – Members of the Danville City Council’s Public Services committee voted to recommend an ordinance restricting abortion rights within the city. 

The ordinance would outlaw the shipping of abortion medication abortion or tools used to provide an abortion within Danville. But, the ACLU claims the ordinance violates state law. 

“Proposing an unenforceable ordinance is a political maneuver that causes confusion and that harms people seeking care,” Chaundre White, a lawyer with the ACLU of Illinois, said. 

Abortion rights advocates are organizing a protest at the Danville City Council meeting on Tuesday where the council could vote on the ordinance.

If the ordinance passes, White said the ACLU plans to sue the city. 

At the Public Services meeting last week, Danville residents weighed concerns over the legal fees. 

“We don’t want to be sued. We don’t want a big expensive lawsuit. And we would lose,” said Danville resident Diana Brenneman at the meeting. 

Many residents said they supported the measure because they want to prevent a proposed abortion clinic from opening in Danville

“It’s not like the passage of this ordinance prevents women from choosing to pursue their rights in very near locations, unfortunately,” said Josh Hayes, a speaker at the meeting. “But I think it’s an opportunity for us to say this is against federal law and not in our community.” 

White, who was at the meeting, said many were concerned over how the ordinance would be enforced since it involved mail. 

“The police chief indicated that it would come as a result of a report from some source, perhaps a citizen making a report of a violation of this law,” said White. “And that draws into question privacy concerns.” 

The ordinance clearly violates Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act, White said, which guarantees citizens’ right to make their own decisions about reproductive health care. 

Rianne Hawkins, the director of advocacy and campaigns at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said she agrees because the ordinance is in opposition to Illinois law. 

“The state of Illinois has already made their voice clear with the passage in signing into law of the Reproductive Health Act that abortion would remain safe and legal in the state of Illinois,” said Hawkins. 

Farrah Anderson is a journalist and student at the University of Illinois. Follow her on Twitter @farrahsoa.

Picture of Farrah Anderson

Farrah Anderson

Farrah Anderson is a student at the University of Illinois studying journalism. At Illinois Public Media, Anderson works as a general assignment reporter and produces and hosts the 217 Today podcast.

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