Ryan vs Biden on Abortion: How Religious Freedom and Birth Control Affect Abortion in Illinois


Editor's Note: With 25 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states.

So far, we've gotten updates on Iowa, WisconsinMississippiMichigan, Indiana, AlabamaOhioFloridaGeorgiaD.C.South Carolina, North CarolinaVirginia, MarylandPennsylvania, DelawareNew JerseyNew York, ConnecticutVermontMassachusetts, Rhode IslandMaine and New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!

On Thursday, Paul Ryan attacked birth control coverage in the vice presidential debate against Joe Biden, linking the debate over contraception to the debate over abortion, with a heavy emphasis on religious freedom. In Illinois, religion and birth control (particularly emergency contraception) are also at play when it comes to abortion rights.


Though Rod Blagojevich and his dapper ‘80s hair were charged with corruption, sentenced to federal prison, and forced to give up the governorship of Illinois, his legacy is not entirely fraught with financial fraud. In 2005, he mandated that all pharmacists sell emergency contraception (more popularly known as Plan B) regardless of their personal beliefs

But at the end of September, an Illinois appellate court overturned this ruling based on its allegedly unbiased nature. Pharmacies and pharmacists can now claim religious exemption to deny women Plan B. The ACLU argued that emergency contraception qualifies as an emergency exception in the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act (see section 6), but the court did not agree. Funnily enough, it was two male pharmacists who initially brought this case to the courts.

The Illinois Supreme Court is also currently debating a 17-year-old ruling regarding parental notification for minors seeking abortions. The law, which would require girls aged 17 and younger to notify a parent before undergoing an abortion, has been bouncing around Illinois state courts since its inception. It has never been enforced. Aside from these scuffles, Illinois’s only restriction is on public insurance plan coverage and does provide public funding for the procedure.

In true Illinois — and Chicago — style, arguably the most exciting (albeit irrelevant) race will be between convicted bribe-acceptor Derrick Smith, who became the first representative expelled from the Illinois State House since 1905, and challenger Lance Tyson who, due to Smith’s already having won the Democratic primary for the district and his refusal to step down, is running for the specially-created Unity Party.