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In First Televised Debate of State’s Attorney’s Race, Eileen O’Neill Burke Unveils First-Ever “Choice Protection Unit” to Defend Abortion Rights, Highlights Experience, Vision for Safety and Justice

Feb 09, 2024


February 8, 2024

In First Televised Debate of State’s Attorney’s Race, Eileen O’Neill Burke Unveils First-Ever “Choice Protection Unit” to Defend Abortion Rights, Highlights Experience, Vision for Safety and Justice

CHICAGO – In the first televised debate in the race for Cook County State’s Attorney, Democrat Eileen O’Neill Burke demonstrated that her three decades of experience as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and judge make her uniquely qualified to bring safety and justice to Cook County. Justice O’Neill Burke also introduced a critical new focus for the State’s Attorney’s Office to defend against rising threats on abortion rights and reproductive healthcare: the Choice Protection Unit.

In the wake of the Dobbs decision striking down Roe and pleas from abortion providers this week for more protections as they face an increase in violence, Justice O’Neill Burke said it is imperative to fully prepare the State’s Attorney’s Office for the volume of threats and cases ahead.

“States like Illinois that safeguard a woman’s right to choose are unfortunately facing additional attacks and pressures on their justice systems,” said Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke. “In order to protect victims and uphold Illinois law, I plan to create the first-ever Choice Protection Unit in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. In a post-Dobbs world, it’s critical that we are ready to respond and ensure women can exercise their guaranteed right to reproductive freedom without harassment. This new unit will enforce the law, protect women’s access to abortion and healthcare, and serve as a model for other states to emulate.”

O’Neill Burke’s Choice Protection Unit will include prosecutors from every division of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) who are prepared to handle a wide variety of civil actions, municipal ordinance violations, misdemeanors, and felonies.

This will include special training for the Civil Actions Bureau defending Cook County Hospital against anti-choice lawsuits. Bond court, misdemeanor, and felony divisions will also participate in monthly training and analysis of statute and case laws that apply to possible charges from unlawful picketing, noise violations, assaults, obstruction of the public way, stalking, and terrorism.

Justice O’Neill Burke plans to work with prosecutors from other jurisdictions to understand cases and tactics being pursued outside of Cook County.

Earlier this week, O’Neill Burke released the first television ad in the race for Cook County State’s Attorney, demonstrating growing momentum and support for her campaign. The new television spot is part of a significant, multi-week ad campaign that will air across cable and broadcast through Election Day on March 19.

The debate was hosted by ABC7 Chicago, WGBO/Univision Chicago, the League of Women Voters Chicago and the League of Women Voters Cook County.

O’Neill Burke has garnered wide support from across Cook County and organized labor including:

  • Congressman Mike Quigley
  • Ald. Felix Cardona
  • Ald. Pete Chico
  • Ald. Pat Dowell
  • Ald. Brian Hopkins
  • Ald. Debra Silverstein
  • Ald. Chris Taliaferro
  • State Rep. Margaret Croke
  • State Rep. Marty Moylan
  • State Sen. Laura Murphy
  • 43rd Ward Dem. Committeeperson Lucy Moog
  • Former 6th Ward Ald. Rod Sawyer
  • Southland Black Chamber of Commerce
  • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), Locals 150 and 399
  • Firefighters, Local 2
  • Pipefitters, Local 597 U.A.
  • Painters District Council 14
  • Sprinkler Fitters, Local 281 U.A.
  • Automobile Mechanics, Local 701
  • Joint Council 25 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Locals 134 and 9
  • Chicago Journey Plumbers, Local 130
  • Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, Local 11
  • Cook County Farm Bureau PAC

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