Illinois governor launches national fundraising organization to stump for abortion access — By: Catholic News Agency

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. / Credit: Pool: Getty Images

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Billionaire Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is starting a political nonprofit organization primarily to advocate for access to abortion around the United States. 

Think Big America is “dedicated to safeguarding reproductive rights and standing up against the right-wing extremists who want to take us backwards,” Pritzker said in a YouTube video released Wednesday.

“Think Big America is building on the successes we’ve achieved in Illinois and taking the fight across the nation,” Pritzker says in the video. 

The initiative is a 501(c)(4) organization, meaning it can accept unlimited donations without disclosing the donors while lobbying public officials or advocating for issues. 

Think Big America was incorporated in Illinois on Wednesday, Oct. 11, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s website

The members of the board of directors are all Democrats: Desiree Rogers, a cosmetics company executive and former White House social secretary in the Obama administration; Michelle Harris, a member of the Chicago City Council; and Illinois State Rep. Margaret Croke, who represents portions of Chicago.

Politico reported Wednesday that nine members of the governor’s political team, including his campaign manager, Mike Ollen, plan to split their time “between the governor’s political work and running the new organization.” 

Pritzker says the focus of the organization will not necessarily be limited to abortion; in the launch video he also mentions what he calls “widespread book bans” and “a rollback of voting rights and civil rights.” 

Yet abortion appears to be the primary aim of the organization. “Women’s health, abortion rights, the right to choose, these are fundamental rights regardless of your income, regardless of where you live or who you are,” Pritzker says in the video. 

Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said the new abortion-supporting organization is in keeping with Pritzker’s record in office. 

“It’s disappointing but not surprising,” Tobias told CNA by telephone Wednesday. “Gov. Pritzker has been a rabid pro-abortion governor through his career.” 

Asked what effect the new organization might have on abortion policy in other states, Tobias said abortion supporters don’t suffer from lack of funds. 

“There is already so much money and so many organizations focusing on abortion. He may have an impact, but at some point it seems like they’re going to have to reach saturation,” Tobias said.

A bitterly contentious topic for decades, abortion has been a major wedge issue across the country since last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, most recently in Ohio, where a poll published Wednesday found that 58% of voters support a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would establish a right to abortion until viability. Ohio voters are already voting on that amendment.

Abortion is a major feature of Pritzker’s platform. The governor “has made access to reproductive health care a cornerstone of his administration,” the governor’s office said in a press release earlier this year. 

In June 2019, Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act bill, which repealed the state’s ban on partial-birth abortion. Under the bill, abortion is legal in Illinois until a fetus is deemed capable of living on its own outside the womb, with an exception if a “health care professional” decides an abortion “is necessary to protect the life or health of the patient.” 

In December 2021, he signed a bill removing a state requirement that minors seeking an abortion notify a parent beforehand. 

In June, meanwhile, Pritzker signed a bill banning what it calls “deceptive practices” by pro-life crisis pregnancy centers.

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