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Senate Democrats sound off against defunding women’s healthcare

PP041417Several Senate Democrats spoke out against President Trump’s decision to sign legislation that allows states to withhold federal funds from organizations that offer abortion services.

“This decision has nothing to do with abortion services and has everything to do with restricting women’s access to health care,” State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) said. “Contrary to popular belief, Title X funds from the federal government cannot be used for abortion services. Instead, they give low-income women access to contraceptives, Pap smears and a host of other preventative health care services.”

Earlier this year, State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) joined with her colleagues in the Senate Public Health Committee to block legislation that would have made it more difficult for women to have access to health care from advancing.  

“These actions taken by President Trump are just another example of an attempt to strip away women’s access to health care,” Murphy said. “I remain committed to stopping President Trump and his extremist proposals that will set women’s health care decisions back decades.”

State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) stated that “this action reinforces the need to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and ensure that women can no longer be discriminated on the basis of their sex. I will not be complicit to the Executive branch’s agenda. It’s time for Illinois to formally recognize that women have equal rights to men and bring our nation one step closer to ratifying the 28th Amendment.”

The Children's Place Association is hurting, like many others (VIDEO)

Aquino041417

The Children's Place Association is a nonprofit in Humboldt Park that provides services for health, education, family stability and financial stability for some of Chicago's most vulnerable families. Due to the budget impasse, they are missing over $300,000 in state funding.

Feedback will shape efforts to legalize recreational marijuana

Sen. Heather Steans

Feedback from community groups, advocacy organizations, public safety officers, medical professionals and the public will be pivotal in shaping efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois. At a press conference today, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) announced plans to hold the first subject matter hearing on the topic at 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the Bilandic building.

“Rep. Cassidy and I are committed to gathering feedback about how legalizing recreational marijuana would affect the state from a large variety of interest groups,” Steans said. “We have received overwhelming support for this legislation but do not plan to move forward hastily. We want to ensure that there is ample time for organizations and individuals to present testimony and for us to adjust the legislation based on information presented in hearings.”

Barbara Brohl, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Revenue will testify on how legalizing recreational marijuana has affected Colorado during the first hearing on this subject. Karmen Hanson, the program director of the Health Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, will also testify on what other states have done around legalizing marijuana.

“Senator Steans and I strongly believe that it’s time that Illinois had a new drug policy,” Cassidy said. “Legalizing recreational marijuana will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state. We’re discussing all sorts of proposals to end the budget impasse, and we thought this should be part of the conversation as well.”

The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy organization devoted to ending marijuana prohibition, has estimated that legalizing recreational marijuana would generate between $350 million and $700 million in new revenue for the state of Illinois. Under the Steans-Cassidy proposals, the revenue would go to support the State Board of Education; treatment and education programs about marijuana, alcohol and tobacco; and the state’s General Revenue Fund.

Currently, six groups and organizations have come out in support of the legislation due to the fiscal impact it would have on the state and their belief that Illinois needs a new drug policy.

“It is time for Illinois to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, a spokesperson for the Coalition for a Safer Illinois, a newly formed alliance of doctors, law enforcement, clergy and other organizations committed to updating marijuana legislation in Illinois. “Our current policy causes more harm to the individual and society than cannabis consumption, and a majority of Illinois voters are ready for a better approach. We believe these bills are exactly what Illinois needs.”

The two legislators will also seek feedback from residents at a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in their district.