Casten, Ives have widely different views on abortion, contraception rights

The Democratic and Republican candidates for Illinois' 6th Congressional District seat have opposing views on reproductive rights.

Democratic incumbent Sean Casten of Downers Grove supports a woman's right to have an abortion.

Republican challenger Jeanne Ives of Wheaton opposes abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother.

The candidates have discussed abortion, contraception and other issues in Daily Herald interviews and public forums ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

It was one of the topics that came up during a recent online debate hosted by suburban chapters of the League of Women Voters. The moderator asked the candidates if contraception and abortion should be covered by insurance, and if they support the Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to have an abortion.

With conservatives likely gaining a strong majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, some believe the Roe decision could be overturned if an appropriate case reaches the nation's highest court.

Casten, who is seeking a second term in Congress, supports the Roe decision and a woman's right to have an abortion without limitation. He said his support of abortion rights doesn't mean he wants the number of abortion procedures increase.

"The choice about what is medically appropriate for the woman's life is the choice of that woman and that woman alone," said Casten, who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Illinois Action and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, two groups that support abortion rights.

Denying abortion services to people who depend on Medicaid - as a federal policy called the Hyde Amendment currently does, except in cases of rape, incest or risk to the mother's life - puts women's lives in jeopardy, Casten said.

Rather than being a law, the Hyde Amendment is a rider that's been attached to annual congressional appropriations bills, and Casten believes it should be eliminated.

Ives, a former state representative who ran for governor in 2018, has said she opposes abortion in nearly every case because she believes in the potential of every life. In the League of Women Voters forum, Ives said she doesn't accept Roe v. Wade as settled law and believes the issue of abortion should be decided by individual states.

She also said she stands firmly behind the Hyde Amendment limiting federal funding for abortion.

Ives, who has been endorsed by the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said she supports an Illinois state law requiring a minor's parents be notified if the girl is seeking an abortion.

As for contraception, Casten said the sale or delivery of birth control shouldn't be left up to a health care provider's religious views.

"All you have to do is imagine a religion that you may personally disagree with to get into a really slippery slope," Casten said. "If you have a Jehovah's Witness doctor that's opposed to blood transfusion, should he deny you a blood transfusion if you're in the middle of a surgery?"

Casten said the only way to reduce incidents of unwanted pregnancy is to make sure people can get contraception.

In a Daily Herald questionnaire earlier this year, Ives said contraceptive products should be treated like other prescription drugs. If they're purchased over the counter without prescriptions, federal funds shouldn't help cover their costs, she said.

Ives also said employers should be able to decide whether contraception is covered under their insurance plans. Requiring companies or organizations to include contraception coverage in insurance plans "is not American" and violates the First Amendment's protection of religious rights, Ives said.

"To force people to provide it is what's wrong, and that's the direction that Sean Casten wants to go," she said.

The 6th District includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. Libertarian Party candidate Bill Redpath of West Dundee also is running.

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