51st House District candidate says opponent distorted her record on abortion rights

  • Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, left, and Nabeela Syed are candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 51st state House District seat.

    Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, left, and Nabeela Syed are candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 51st state House District seat.

Updated 5/9/2022 6:02 PM

A candidate in the Democratic primary for the 51st state House District seat is accusing her opponent of twisting her record on abortion rights.

During a May 4 forum hosted by League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area, Nabeela Syed of Inverness said she is "incredibly proud" to be the only candidate who had never donated money, publicly supported or made campaign videos for a political candidate opposed to abortion rights.


Her opponent, Chelsea Laliberte Barnes of Palatine, took issue with the comment Monday.

"I'm disappointed to see my record misrepresented by my opponent," she said in a statement. "I've never donated to or supported anyone who is pro-life. I'm pro-choice and believe it is a woman's right to choose. In fact, I hosted an abortion rights rally in Lake Zurich on Saturday, which over 150 people attended."

Barnes, who helped found an organization devoted to preventing substance use disorder, following the accidental overdose death of her brother Alex, said she spent 13 years working in a bipartisan manner on such efforts as the Lake County Opioid Initiative. That included writing a federal law with former Republican congressman Bob Dold to support public health programs across the country.

Syed said it was Barnes' work with Dold that fueled her comment.

"She made a campaign ad for Bob Dold, who was running against Brad Schneider, and (Dold) was called out by the Planned Parenthood and by pro-choice organizations for being anti-choice," Syed said.

Although he had been criticized by Planned Parenthood for supporting some restrictions on abortion rights, Dold called himself a pro-choice Republican. In 2012, he introduced the Protecting Women's Access to Healthcare Act, which sought to prevent lawmakers from blocking federal family planning funds to Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics provide abortions.

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Syed's remarks at last week's forum came as the candidates discussion bipartisanship and their willingness to reach across the aisle.

Barnes said abortion rights supporters aren't necessarily split along party lines.

"A lot of Republicans in this community and across the state also believe in abortion rights," she said.

Syed said she agreed but added that Republicans "have been attacking reproductive rights, preparing for this moment."

The winner of the June 28 primary will face Republican state Rep, Chris Bos of Lake Zurich in the Nov. 8 general election.

The 51st District includes parts of Palatine, Inverness, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, Barrington, Kildeer, Deer Park, Long Grove, Vernon Hills, Lake Zurich and Hawthorn Woods.

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