Illinois Panel Passes Pro-Life Bill on Abortion Center Regs

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2011   |   6:04PM   |   Springfield, IL

If a woman has an abortion, she should be going to a place that can ensure it has the proper medical equipment and properly trained staff who can help if the abortion goes awry.

That’s the thought behind a bill the Illinois House Agriculture Committee passed Tuesday on a 13-0 vote despite complaints that the measure was in the wrong committee. The panel heard the bill while abortion advocates wore shirts saying, “Women are not livestock” — even though abortion centers that quickly process women through abortions without given them proper counseling or warning that it has potential medical risks treat them that way.

Rep. Darlene Senger, a Naperville Republican, sponsored the bill — which requires abortion centers to meet the same requirements as legitimate surgical centers rather than the lower standards of a doctors office where surgeries are not performed. Those standards include requiring abortion centers to have equipment such as defibrillators and ventilators and to ensure there is enough room to wheel a gurney into the abortion facility to take a patient quickly to the hospital.

“Surgical outpatient centers are built for surgery. That means if something goes wrong, they are equipped to deal with it,” Senger said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m just trying to make parity here for the safety for everyone.”

Colleen Connell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, voiced strong opposition to the measure to protect the lives and health of women.

But Peter Breen, executive director of the Thomas More Society, a pro-life law firm, testified for the bill and said, “There are abortion clinics doing general anesthesia procedures that are not licensed.”

“Currently, abortion clinics do not have to play by the same rules that other ambulatory surgical clinics have to play by,” says Breen. “This amendment will ensure that women in Illinois are provided the same health and safety protections at abortion clinics that they would receive at any other ambulatory surgical center.”

The committee also passed two other bills, including one from Senger that requires abortion centers to report suspected cases of sexual abuse of minors to the proper authorities. Abortion advocates came under heavy criticism for opposing the measure.

“Recently in 10 states, there was information that when minors were coming into some abortion facilities, even though it was known … that these individuals were minors, and there were incidences it was known they were abused or neglected, those facilities did not report that,” said Dawn Behnke, legislative director with the Illinois Federation for Right to Life.

Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat, sponsored a third measure that requires longer waiting periods before an abortion can be done and to allow women a chance to view an ultrasound of the unborn baby one hour prior to the abortion. However, he did not bring the bill up for a debate and vote because he said an opponent in the Senate has ensured the measure will never come up for a vote.