Due to Presence Health’s restrictions on birth control and reproductive healthcare, the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women continues to oppose granting the proposed $5.5 million TIF subsidy funded by city of Chicago taxpayer money. Subsidies for healthcare must affirm and protect all people’s right to bodily autonomy and as such should only be granted to healthcare providers that offer comprehensive reproductive services.

This proposal shows the incredible reach Presence Health already has in neighborhoods across the City of Chicago. As the largest nonprofit healthcare system in Illinois, Presence Health is responsible for the care of thousands of Chicagoans. As care providers like Presence, who do not provide contraceptives or other key health procedures, take up more and more space in our healthcare system, options for people seeking what is a natural and sometimes necessary part of their healthcare become fewer and fewer.

“If Presence receives more funding, access to women’s health services will decrease even more,” writes former Chicago NOW board member Christina Tanner. “I was director of midwifery and women’s health services for a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that had a partnership with a Catholic hospital in Evanston. We had to put up a separate clinic down the street to provide birth control.”

Chicago NOW respects the right of any person to choose Presence Health’s preferred method of Natural Family Planning, but we believe that healthcare providers should not present this as the sole available option. Especially in our current political climate in which access to basic health care is continuously being threatened, we believe our tax dollars should be invested in providing quality health care for all Chicagoans, and to providers that make all contraceptive and reproductive care options accessible and affordable for anyone who needs them.

We hope the City Council Finance Committee will consider the need for women—and all people—to have affordable, accessible and informed reproductive care access in making their decision whether or not to invest taxpayer dollars in Presence Health.