Illinois House Defeats Bill on Abortion Center Regulations

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 14, 2011   |   12:57PM   |   Springfield, IL

Illinois House lawmakers defeated a bill yesterday that would protect women by putting more regulations of abortion centers in place, but the pro-life measure may have another chance to pass.

The bill, drafted by the pro-life legal group Thomas More Society says that 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. The bill amends the state’s Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act to ensure that surgical abortion clinics are held to the same standard as any other outpatient surgical center.

Currently, only five abortion centers in Illinois, less than 25% statewide, meet the standards — which ensure that outpatient surgeries are performed in the safest and cleanest environments and that, when complications occur, emergency personnel can get in and help get patients to a hospital as quickly as possible.

The debate on the bill was lengthy and vociferous and, in an incredible moment, Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana), an ACLU and Planned Parenthood-backed five-term veteran of the legislature, attacked the Thomas More Society by name on the floor of the House for TMS’ role in pushing the bill.

The bill lost by three votes, but the sponsor, Rep. Darlene Senger (R-Naperville), smartly invoked a procedural maneuver that delays final consideration, in order to provide a final chance for pro-lifers to swing the necessary three votes. Seven representatives voted “present” – the equivalent of a “no” vote – and the votes are very fluid on the measure, TMS indicates. The measure needed 60 votes to pass and it received 57.

The bill 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 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 Illinois House Agriculture Committee passed the bill on a 13-0 vote.

Contact members of the Illinois House at and urge them to support HB 3156.