On Monday, May 9, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot joined reproductive justice leaders to announce the Promise of justice for all, in response to the draft opinion released by the majority of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), doubling down on its commitments to create a safe and fair city for all. This commitment signals that the City will continue to be a safe haven for all who are unfairly deprived of the resources and opportunities they deserve; fight for the rights of all; and to ensure that no one will be attacked, assaulted, intimidated or discriminated against because of who they are, the choices they make about their bodily autonomy or who they love.
Therefore, today the City of Chicago presents the Promise of justice for all:
“Justice and freedom are fundamental tenets of our American democracy, and as public and private institutions, we have a responsibility to protect and advance justice and freedom in partnership with the communities we serve. We are committed to protecting and creating equitable access to opportunities and resources that enhance and facilitate everyone’s ability to thrive. This means that we must create and maintain in Chicago a safe haven for all who are unjustly deprived of the rights, privileges, immunities, resources and opportunities they deserve as human beings and residents of our city and country.
- Fight for the rights of all people, regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry or sexual orientation. We will fight so that no one is attacked, assaulted, intimidated or discriminated against because of who they are, the choices they make about their bodily autonomy or who they love;
- Protect and increase access to all safe reproductive, obstetric and gynecological health care, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, race, disability, sexual orientation, socio- economic, residence, or immigration status of the patient to support the choices of all to have or not to have children on their terms;
- Build anti-racism leadership capacity, consider the impacts of racism, and protect and advance justice in partnership with the communities we serve;
- Create safe environments to directly support and address racial and health disparities experienced by people of color, especially maternal and infant mortality rates experienced by black women in Chicago; and
- Support and affirm a search for truth and freedom of expression that does not spread hatred or erase anyone from our history and our current fight for justice.
In addition to the pledge, Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced an investment of $500,000 as part of their work on maternal and reproductive health. These funds will support access to reproductive health care for Chicagoans and patients seeking safe, legal care in neighboring states that have or will eventually ban abortion if the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade, as stated in the leaked decision.
“Through this investment, my administration reaffirms our commitment to ensuring safe access for anyone seeking safe reproductive health care. This includes access to transportation, housing, care and, if necessary, safe and legal access to an abortion procedure,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “All people, regardless of race, gender, age, income or immigration status, deserve access to health care, and that includes reproductive rights and the choice to decide their own body.”
Mayor Lightfoot called on the philanthropic and business communities to support scaling up Chicago’s critically important reproductive health safety net for all who need it, here in the city and across the country. She also called on other cities to join her in taking the Promise of justice for all.
In addition to this investment, the CDPH funds a multitude of services to support individuals in their reproductive and maternal health and safety. This includes the Family Connects program, which currently provides services to all new parents at four Chicago hospitals, with plans to expand to all new parents at each Chicago obstetrical hospital over the next year, using additional funding from the Chicago stimulus plan. Through this program, nurses support new parents and assess future pregnancy intention through a patient-centered approach. Nurses provide birth control education and counseling based on the individual’s postpartum choice.
CDPH also funds the Chicago Healthy Adolescents and Teens (CHAT) program, the city’s school-based sexual health education, and STI screening initiative for teens ages 13-24. Through a delegated agency, PlannedParenthood of Illinois, students receive sexual health education, confidential chlamydia/gonorrhea testing (urine screening), private one-on-one meeting with an educator health and a link to a full range of reproductive health services. services. In 2021 alone, the program served over 8,000 students. Chicago’s teenage birth rates have dropped significantly in recent decades; however, racial, ethnic and geographic disparities persist. The majority of adolescent pregnancies are unintended, highlighting the important issue of access to reproductive health care and education.
“Women’s health is a right that must be guaranteed and it is a matter of public health. Before the legalization of abortion, tens of thousands of women ended up in the emergency room every year following botched and illegal abortions. Not all survived,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, MD. “We must never go back to that time. As a physician, I oppose the creation of barriers to care and am proud that Chicago continues to value access to health care for women.
“We are outraged by the Supreme Court’s proposed majority opinion authored by Justice Alito that explicitly overturns Roe v. Wade and dismantle the legal foundations of our fundamental rights and protections. Women can only be free if they are able to control their own bodies and their own reproductive health. Investments like these are essential to ensure access to safe reproductive health care for all who need it. We commend and support Mayor Lightfoot for this investment and for his commitment to making Chicago a beacon and leader for reproductive justice,” said Jackie Kaplan-Perkins, Chair of the Mayor’s Women’s Advisory Council.
“As a hands-on support organization, Midwest Access Coalition has been arranging and funding travel and accommodations for thousands of people requiring short- and long-distance travel assistance in Chicago since 2015,” said Diana Parker. -Kafka, executive director of Midwest Access Coalition. “We commend the mayor for investing to ensure that bodily autonomy remains a right available to all, and we are honored to help support his efforts.”
“Reproductive justice is about more than access to birth control and abortion,” said Felicia Davis Blakley, president and CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women.
“Major investments in reproductive health are essential to address the severe health care disparities that disproportionately afflict women, especially women of color, trans people, and gender non-binary people across Chicago. “
“We are proud to say that abortion is still safe and legal in Illinois and will remain so even when the Supreme Court officially overturns Roe v. Wade, as the leaked draft decision showed they were close to. Planned Parenthood of Illinois strives to ensure that every patient, wherever they live, has access to the essential health care they need and deserve, including abortion. But we can’t do it alone, and we appreciate the City of Chicago’s commitment to supporting providers during this time of growing crisis,” said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
“Following the leak of the draft opinion, which if final shows that the Supreme Court will strike down the fundamental right to abortion in this country, we are grateful that local leaders are taking meaningful steps to access to abortion by dedicating resources to the Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF),” said Qudsiyyah Shariyf, Deputy Director of CAF. “With anti-abortion politicians increasingly passing laws that prohibit and restrict abortion in the Midwest, this investment will allow organizations like CAF to continue to serve our community and ensure abortion is here to help. everyone who needs it, no matter who they are, where they live or how much they earn.
If someone is looking for support and services, the The OneChiFam website provides trusted sexual and reproductive health resources and information and includes an online resource Searcher. CDPH hosts a digital community directory as part of its OneChiFam resource page. Anyone can use this directory to search by zip code, category or keyword.