IL Sec. of State heralds bill as 1st in U.S. to protect license plate data in abortion activities

The measure also restricts the use of the automatic license plate readers to check someone's immigration status.

Published: June 8, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Those coming to Illinois to receive an abortion or other reproductive health care could soon be protected by the state from penalties back home.

House Bill 3326 limits other states' ability to access automatic license plate reader data in Illinois to punish someone from out of state seeking an abortion in Illinois.

Lawmakers and the Illinois Secretary of State hosted a media availability at Planned Parenthood in Chicago and discussed the measure, which is one step away from becoming law.

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias spearheaded the measure and said Illinois is leading the charge in abortion rights.

"I could not be more proud of this landmark legislation. No other state in America specifically prohibits ALPRs from being used to track and penalize individuals for their actions in another state," Giannoulias said.

State Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, said this is one of several steps the state will take to ensure abortion rights.

"Although I believe we have much more work to do to ensure that personal private data is protected, whether it's collected by ALPRs or other devices, that it is not used to punish people seeking reproductive health care," Williams said. "This initiative is an incredible start, and it is an important first step."

The readers are used primarily to track crimes and help locate suspects of crimes. Giannoulias said while that is important, the state must use it for the correct reasons.

"Make no mistake, ALPRs are an important tool for law enforcement, especially when apprehending suspects in violent crimes or recovering stolen vehicles in car jackings," Giannoulias said. "We need to regulate these cameras so they are not being used for surveillance and tracking the data of innocent people."

The measure received pushback from Republican lawmakers as state Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, had concerns about the safety of shutting off these cameras for those seeking abortions.

"Under this law, a minor girl from Missouri could be brought to Illinois by her abuser to undergo an abortion, and that license plate data couldn't be used to bring him to justice," Tracy said. "We're going to perhaps make this too broad and allow a true perpetrator and an abuser to go free and avoid prosecution."

The measure also restricts the use of the automatic license plate readers to check someone's immigration status.

Illinois has some of the least restrictive abortion laws in the nation. HB3326 now awaits to be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for approval.

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