Illinois is clapping back at Texas’ controversial 6-week abortion ban with a bill targeting rapists.
Earlier this month, Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D) filed The Expanding Abortion Services Act (TExAS). If passed, the Act, also known as HB 4146, would award $10,000 to a person who brings a civil lawsuit against any individual who commits an act of domestic violence or rape, anyone who causes an unintended or unwanted pregnancy or any person who enables those acts. The bill takes after Texas’s new law, which enables any civilian to pursue penalties against abortion providers, patients and others who help women get abortions.
“I proposed the TExAS Act specifically to answer the questions over what the implications of incentivizing neighbors to sue each other would be for our state as well as for us as a state to examine the growing issue of patients coming into Illinois for reproductive health services they can’t access in their home states,” Cassidy told The Whipp.
Half of the $10,000 award will be allocated toward a new fund managed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, to be utilized as financial aid for people from states with restricted abortion access and rights to travel to the Prairie State for the procedure.
A hearing for the TExAS Act could happen at any time, Cassidy told The Whipp. Per Illinois state statute, committee meetings can be held even if the legislature is not in session. The new law in Texas bans abortions, without exception, once a heartbeat is detected, which is typically around six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant. The rule, which is still standing in Texas, is the most restrictive anti-abortion law in America as of this writing.
“Texas has gone to the greatest possible lengths to force their residents to carry pregnancies to term, regardless of the circumstances,” Cassidy said. “I went through fertility treatments to have my children, so there was nobody more aware of where I was in my cycle than I was, and I still didn’t confirm pregnancy until later than that. It’s cruel, simply put.”
One thing is clear—Americans do want access to legal abortions. And more so after the Texas abortion ban went into effect. In fact, 63% of registered voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. This is one of the highest levels of support in favor of abortion since Quinnipiac University first queried people about the topic in 2004. The pollsters also noted this is the first-time support for abortion being legal in all cases has surpassed 30%.
It is too early to determine whether Cassidy’s TExAS Act will garner support among Illinois legislators, Illinois constituents or other states. But there is talk of other state legislatures implementing variations of the Texas abortion law to allow individuals to pursue legal action against those who possess illegal weapons and firearms or those who violate mask or vaccine mandates.
“I won’t be surprised to see others introduce bills like this,” Cassidy told The Whipp.