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Simon stops by clinic to discuss women’s health care

AURORA – Sheila Simon, lieutenant governor of Illinois, visited the Planned Parenthood: Aurora Health Center on Wednesday to advocate for comprehensive women’s health care coverage in the wake of a Senate vote and Supreme Court ruling against it.

On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the case of Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby, saying some for-profit corporations can object to paying for contraception insurance coverage on the basis of religious beliefs. A bill to override the Supreme Court decision failed to move ahead after a Senate vote Wednesday.

“I want to give full credit to [Sen.] Dick Durban for being one of the co-sponsors,” Simon said. “I really appreciate that, and I’m committed to helping him in whatever way to help pass [the bill] through when they bring it up again.”

Simon was joined by state Sen. Linda Holmes for a tour of the facility, which was led by Planned Parenthood employees. Impressed with the tour overall, Simon said the facility has a calming atmosphere and helpful staff.

“I came because I think it’s important that more of us pay attention to women’s health care issues now, particularly with recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Simon said.

Carole Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, released a June 30 statement after the Supreme Court ruling.

“Virtually all American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some time,” according to Planned Parenthood’s statement. “Regardless of the size of the corporation, we will not let this ruling deter us from continuing to provide essential health care services to the more than 60,000 women, men, and teens across Illinois ... ”

Hobby Lobby will continue covering 16 types of birth control for employees after the Supreme Court ruling. Those 16 forms do not include Plan B, Ella or intrauterine devices.

“ ... abortion-causing drugs go against our faith, and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families,” said Hobby Lobby CEO David Green in a September statement.

Simon said the problem is that the Supreme Court decision will make birth control coverage unaffordable, especially if a woman is working a minimum wage job.

“For-profit companies will still be required to provide birth control with a co-pay under Illinois law, unless they are self-insured [like Hobby Lobby] or receive a state exemption under the Health Care Right of Conscience Act,” according to a statement from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

The Wednesday Senate vote is slated to be held again before the end of this year.

“I am a strong supporter of women, of our right to control our own destinies, to have appropriate health care available to us,” Simon said. “I’m really pleased to be here at a facility that does just that in Aurora. And also to see the bank of people answering phone calls here in the building, whether it’s to schedule an appointment or answer questions.”

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