Oak Park has a reputation, mostly deserved, for leading on complex social issues. Voters here passed a ban on handguns, which was enforced until overturned by the courts. Oak Park passed the first domestic partnership registry in the state to recognize a new status for gay and lesbian residents in committed relationships. Oak Park approved the first Open Housing ordinance in Illinois as it grappled with a path toward racial integration. Oak Park declared itself a sanctuary village, defending and welcoming immigrants in the community and protecting immigrants from federal policing actions. And Oak Park declared itself a Nuclear Free Zone in what was certainly its most performative public exhibition.
Now, with a radically politicized Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Oak Park’s elected leaders are preparing another action in response to this appalling and backward court decision.
Led by Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla, we expect the village board will soon consider an ordinance marking Oak Park as a sanctuary community for abortion. She has already lined up Trustee Chibuike Enyia as a supporter. And Village President Vicki Scaman has declared her “1,000% support” for the measure.
We’ll add our strong support for this community leading on defending what has been a bedrock right to privacy and personal choice for a half-century across America. The high court’s decision, arrived at by bald lies by Trump nominees during confirmation hearings, the theft of President Obama’s rightful pick of a nominee by Sen. Mitch McConnell and the weak-kneed acquiescence of senators such as Susan Collins and Joe Manchin, have brought us to this low point in our splintering history.
By its action, this court has intentionally wrought chaos and division as it allows states to choose their own restrictions on abortion rights. Rightly there is focus on the giddy efforts of red states to reach the most extreme positions possible — no exceptions for rape or incest, threats of prosecution of people seeking abortions or providing abortion services, bans that would prevent people from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion.
These are staggering and un-American concepts.
As important, though, is to focus on decisive actions by blue states such as Illinois and a majority of other states to explicitly protect the right to an abortion, to welcome people to our state for this reproductive health care treatment.
And within a state such as Illinois, it is essential that clear-minded communities such as Oak Park make entirely clear that it stands with women, that it stands for reproductive rights without exception. This is within the Oak Park progressive tradition. It will reinforce Oak Park’s leadership on critical issues at moments of inflection.
We also believe it will inspire other communities to take the same declarative action. And that is all to the good.