Passing House Bill 40 in 2017
In 2017, coalition of reproductive rights organizations in Illinois set out to pass HB40, a bill that would fix trigger language in the Illinois Criminal Code which could have made abortion illegal if/when Roe v. Wade gets overturned. The bill also ensured that women who worked for the state government could use their state-provided insurance coverage to terminate a pregnancy if they chose to.
Finally, the bill addressed a major inequity in healthcare policy, by requiring Medicaid to cover abortions in Illinois, ensuring low income people have the same reproductive healthcare options as wealthier people do.
When the bill stalled in the Illinois State House, Men4Choice partnered with the coalition to develop a field strategy and coordinated a massive organizing campaign. We organized more than 40 phone bank locations across the state to make over 75,000 calls to state legislators, and turned out hundreds of volunteers to go door-to-door canvassing over 12 days of action. All of this work was funded by male allies only.
The bill ultimately passed both chambers of the Illinois legislature, but the fight didn’t end there. Over the summer and fall, Illinois’ Governor, Bruce Rauner, threatened to veto the bill. Men4Choice sprung into action, and in partnership with Personal PAC, designed and launched the #CallBullshit campaign to hold the Governor accountable. Thanks to sustained pressure from dozens of organizations and hundreds of activists, in September 2017 HB40 was signed into law.
Community Organizing in 2018
In 2018, Men4Choice joined the fight to expand the pro-choice majority in the Illinois legislature. We organized dozens of events across the state in the spring and summer to educate, train, and recruit volunteers to go canvassing. In the fall, we focused on 11 legislative districts and held 17 days of action, mobilizing hundreds of members to knock doors. 8 of those districts ended up electing pro-choice candidates, including 4 districts who voted out anti-choice incumbents in favor of pro-choice women candidates. Of the more than 260 volunteers Men4Choice recruited to canvass their communities in support of reproductive freedom, 47% were male allies. That work, which primarily focused on areas not traditionally known as pro-choice strongholds, went as far west as Moline (near the Iowa border) and as far south as Edwardsville (near the Missouri border).
We helped to fundamentally change the makeup of our state legislature which has led to huge victories in 2019, on reproductive healthcare policies and other progressive issues.
The Reproductive Health Act in 2019
In 2019, the RHA Coalition focused on passing the Reproductive Health Act, which would remove abortion from the Illinois Criminal Code and codify abortion as healthcare and a fundamental right in Illinois. Despite electing the biggest pro-choice majority in Illinois history in 2018, when it came time to pass the RHA, the bill had stalled in the legislature and it seemed it would not even get a vote in committee, let alone on the floor of the State House .
Men4Choice worked with partners across the state to develop a powerful digital campaign and organizing plan to build awareness around the RHA. We focused on storytelling to center and elevate the voices of those most impacted and highlighting the real threats to Illinois residents in a post-Roe world if we didn’t pass the RHA.
As a part of our organizing plan with coalition partners, we amplified and mobilized a powerful direct action and lobby day in Springfield. Videos we produced from that action went viral and reached more than 400,000 people on social media, helping shift the narrative around RHA. With the tireless work of so many brave leaders the RHA was passed in the final days of the legislative session.
In a year that saw so many devastating abortion restrictions passed in states across the country, Illinois was able to expand reproductive freedom. Men4Choice was proud to show up as partners and allies in this historic fight!