Dolton; Illinois — With the midterm elections around the corner in Illinois and nationwide, I can't help but feel the weight of what it’ll mean to cast my ballot this time around. There’s a lot at stake in this election cycle for young adults, who have been a mouthpiece for change on a host of issues.
While there’s no shortage of issues that need to be addressed, I believe the most pressing are protecting abortion rights and rolling out much needed criminal Justice reforms.
After The Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in June, each state has taken on the responsibility of establishing laws that protect and restrict abortion. As a result, abortions are now banned in at least 13 states while the fight for access is still taking place in many others. As someone who believes in a woman’s right to choose, I’m encouraged by the fact that Illinois not only remains a pro-choice state but touts some of the most comprehensive reproductive rights in the country.
However, advocates fear that could change if Republicans win two contested Illinois Supreme Court seats. In the 2nd Judicial District race, former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran is facing Democratic Judge Elizabeth Rochford, and in the 3rd Judicial District race, Incumbent Republican Justice Michael Burke is facing off against Democratic Appellate Court Judge Mary K. O’Brien.
Liberals currently hold a 4-3 majority on the Supreme Court, but if Curran and Burke secure victories, that would shift the balance of power on the court. We can’t afford for that to happen, especially when we look to what’s happening in other states that have banned abortions.
I’ve read horror stories from states like Texas, where abortions have been banned in the most extreme circumstances including if patients are confronted with severe fetal abnormalities that put lives in jeopardy. It’s hard to wrap my head around why situations like this one and others aren’t taken seriously enough to afford them the proper care. And as with most issues that plague our country, I’m sure the most vulnerable individuals will be affected in the long run. In Illinois, and specifically in Chicago, that means the poor Black and Brown people and those living in disinvested neighborhoods.
Another crucial issue is how the state navigates criminal justice reforms in the aftermath of the Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act, signed last year by Gov. JB Pritzker. While filled with various reforms, the ones that caught my eye deal with policing. Some of my friends and loved ones are distrustful of the police and though I may not share all of their feelings, I still feel nervous when I see a police car driving near me.
Me and my peers want officers that are well-trained and that are culturally competent, especially in a city like Chicago. That’s why it’s important for elected officials in the Governor's and Attorney General’s races to understand it, too. These days, there’s been a lot of talk about efforts to revise the SAFE-T act, which enacts reform impacting pre-arrest diversion, policing, pretrial, sentencing and corrections.
I’m open to a lot of these conversations and I’m sure there will be changes made to provisions in the act. However, I don’t want any of those changes to take away from the immense need for well-trained police. Lives depend on it.