Court rulings help thrust Illinois into abortion debate spotlight | WBEZ
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Illinois is the nation's latest abortion battleground

Anti-choice protesters set up a protest across the street from a Northwest Side family planning clinic (Photo by Marcus Gilmer/WBEZ)

Lead story: Abortion took center stage at times during this election, and thanks in no small part to the wrong-headed words of U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, it seems a new battleground for the debate has emerged over the past few weeks: Illinois. Two weeks ago, after 17 years of skirmishes and injunctions, the state’s controversial abortion notification law — requiring patients 17 years old or younger to notify their parents before having an abortion  — went before the Illinois state supreme court. Then, late last week, an Illinois appellate court ruled that two pharmacists could refuse to fill prescriptions for the Morning-After pill if it interfered with their “conscientious convictions,” saying the pair were protected by the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. (An executive order signed in 2005 by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had forced pharmacists to fill all prescriptions.)

It was against this backdrop that anti-abortion protesters gathered Monday night at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora for a prayer vigil to mark the five-year anniversary of the clinic’s opening. The clinic had been a lightning rod of controversy when it opened and the vigil falls during anti-choice protesters “40 Days For Life” campaign. Though it's no question which way the state will go in the upcoming election, the schism between liberal, urban Chicago and more conservative downstate areas will continue to widen over this issue well after the election, setting the groundwork for some interesting local elections down the line.

Also: Monday was a big night for the Bears: The team came away with a 34-18 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, playing in a stadium with so many Bears fans it sometimes felt like a home game. The Bears defense had yet another stout performance, forcing five Cowboys interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns (by Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs). While the offense took a while to get going, it clicked well when it did with Jay Cutler throwing for 275 yards (138 of those to Brandon Marshall) and two touchdowns. At 3-1, the Bears remain tied with the Vikings atop the NFC North division and head to Jacksonville this weekend for their next game. 

Announced: The 23 new MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant recipients, including Northwestern University historian Dylan C. Penningroth, who is researching pre-Civil War slaves who owned land. Other recipients include Claire Chase, flutist and co-founder of the International Contemporary Ensemble in Chicago, Punch Brothers mandolin player extraordinaire Chris Thile and acclaimed writer Junot Diaz.


Looking Ahead


Next time your kids ask you why the sky gets dark at night, you can give them a real answer other than what my parents told me, which was that Jesus turned off the sun so we could hide safely from the dragons. That’s Alabama for you.

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