Over the past several months, women in Illinois and all over the country have felt under siege - between attempts to defund Planned Parenthood to attacks on our civil liberties to the regular inclusion of discriminatory and offensive language in our national political discourse - women have become active and engaged at unprecedented levels.
But our right to access safe and legal abortion has been under siege for decades.
Even though Roe v. Wade has ensured women access to abortion since 1973 - that's 44 years - the ability of women to access this right has been and continues to be under attack every single day.
Yes, it's 2017 and we're still fighting. And today, we're fighting for the very heart of our reproductive freedom - our ability to control our bodies, our lives, our destinies.
We're fighting against unreasonable restrictions on clinics, onerous and invasive requirements for unnecessary medical procedures such as vaginal ultrasounds, "informed consent" requirements not based in medical facts, violence and harassment at clinics, threats - even death threats - against providers, and an array of other sometimes bizarre, often punitive and always unreasonable restrictions designed with one goal in mind: to keep women from accessing safe and legal abortion.
In 2016, 353 state laws designed to restrict or limit access to abortion were introduced at the state level. And the anti-woman rhetoric associated with these types of bills is stunning...
In 2012, Todd Akin, Missouri Republican Senate Candidate, speaking about abortion and rape, said "[if] it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
In 2013, Greg Brannon, a North Carolina Senate nominee, described pregnant women as "...girls [who] don't understand what's going on to their bodies."
In 2017, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey, arguing for a bill to require men who impregnate women to approve abortion, referred to pregnant women as "hosts."
Of course, President Donald Trump, who has committed to nominating only anti-choice Supreme Court justices, has said women who seek abortions should be subject to "some form of punishment."
And just today, one of my colleagues spoke about "when Roe v. Wade is overturned."
He said when...not if.
So that's where we are today.
But here in Illinois, we can fight back against the unreasonable restrictions and dangerous rhetoric, and fight to preserve the right of ALL Illinois women to control our own bodies....and our own lives.