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Pro-Choice Advocates Urge City To Reject Plan To Give Tax Financing To Presence Health

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Pro-choice and women's groups are urging the Chicago City Council to reject a plan to give tax financing for a health care organization that refuses to perform elective abortions or provide birth control.

The Emanuel Administration wants tax increment financing to help religious-affiliated Presence Health open facilities in Belmont-Cragin, Avondale, Calumet Heights, and West Town. The facilities would not perform elective abortions, but officials said they would refer patients to places that do.

Colleen Connell, director of Illinois' ACLU, said there is a difference between word and deed.

"We have many, many examples of Presence saying it facilitates this, but actually in practice denying the women information they need about miscarriage management and abortion," Connell said.

A spokesperson for Mayor Emanuel points our the Mayor is a strong advocate for reproductive rights and there is a need for neighborhood health services being proposed here.

Terry Cosgrove, head of Personal PAC, said it's tone deaf to propose more than a half-million dollars in tax increment financing for Presence Health, almost as if aldermen wanted to upset pro-choice women.

"Why do we give $5.5-million to an organization who won't do an abortion for a woman who's been raped and doesn't allow full access to birth control? That should get a lot of people really angry," she said.

Presence officials said they refer patients to partner facilities that can perform abortions, but Paloma Delgadillo, president of Chicago's National Organization for Women, said that is not enough.

"Without convenient access to birth control, and yes, safe and legal abortion, women are left unable to control their fertility and their futures," Delgadillo said.


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