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Chicago Bans Housing And Employment Discrimination Against People Who Have Received Gender-Affirming Care, Abortions

The measure comes as Illinois remains the only Midwest state where abortion is widely accessible following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot gavels out the City Council meeting on Jan. 18, 2023.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — An ordinance barring Chicago landlords and employers from discriminating against people who have received gender-affirming care, abortions or other reproductive healthcare passed City Council Wednesday.

Backed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a group of progressive alderpeople, the ordinance states landlords cannot consider whether someone has undergone gender-affirming care or reproductive health care when making a decision about providing housing.

Employers in Chicago are bound to similar rules, and the measure also prohibits them from accessing an employee’s health information as it relates to gender-affirming care and reproductive health without their consent.

“No person shall discriminate nor take any retaliatory action against an individual with respect to housing because a decision regarding reproductive health care or gender-affirming care,” the measure reads.

Passage of the “Bodily Autonomy Ordinance” comes as Illinois and Chicago have become one of the few places in the Midwest where abortion access remains widely available, said Emily Glover, a director of patient services with Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

“In a time when reproductive rights and access to lifesaving health care is under attack, this ordinance goes beyond basic protections and condemns the actions of other states that have enacted devastating laws banning abortion and gender-affirming care,” Glover said.

“By prohibiting the use of resources to enforce these laws, or participate in actions designed to impose civil or criminal penalties, the city of Chicago is showing that everyone is welcome here.”

The ordinance gives the Chicago Commission on Human Relations power to investigate potential discrimination complaints.

The measure enshrines Chicago as a “beacon” for reproductive healthcare in the region, Lightfoot said Wednesday.

“We will not participate in the efforts of some other states and cities to try to criminalize those who come to Chicago to get the kind of gender-affirming and reproductive health care that they have a right to,” she said.

Religious organizations are exempt from the ordinance.

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