After months of inaction, Illinois lawmakers are moving forward with a radical pro-abortion bill that would legalize abortions for basically any reason up to birth.
The legislation prompted massive protests earlier this year. In March, so many pro-life advocates filled the capitol to rally against the bill that police had to close the building due to overcrowding. Since then, state lawmakers have been sitting on the legislation.
On Wednesday, however, the Illinois House Democratic caucus held a meeting to discuss pushing the bill through before the legislative session ends on May 31, according to Capitol News Illinois.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, made it “clear that they were going to find us a new vehicle for the bill” at the meeting, the report states.
The Reproductive Health Act (House Bill 2495) would treat abortion as a “fundamental right” and strip away even minor protections for unborn babies and medical professionals who object to abortions. Gov. J.B. Pritzker supports the bill.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, a lead sponsor, said they expect the bill will be assigned to a committee soon.
“There are folks who don’t want to do it, but by and large there were some really amazing statements of support, there were some really thoughtful questions, and there were some folks who just simply, in all of the rush and all of the things that are swirling around the capital, haven’t had time to focus on what’s in this bill,” Cassidy said.
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The Thomas More Society described the bill as “the most radical piece of abortion legislation that has ever been introduced in Illinois.” If it passes, it would prohibit the state from interfering in any way with abortions. It would erase criminal penalties for performing abortions and allow non-doctors to do them. The legislation also would repeal the partial-birth abortion ban, abortion clinic regulations and conscience protections for medical workers.
A second bill also would repeal the state parental notification law, which requires underage girls to inform at least one parent before she has an abortion.
Democrats control both state houses and the governor’s office. But pro-life leaders are not giving up.
Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, told the local news that opposition to the bill remains strong.
“There’s a saying down here — it’s not soup yet. That’s kind of a phrase for, well, there’s a lot of discussion, there’s a lot of support, but there’s a lot of opposition. I think that probably aptly fits this situation,” Gilligan said. “I think there’s obviously members of the Democratic caucus that are very supportive of it, they’re very energized. But there’s also just as many members who have been hearing arguments in opposition to it.”
According to Illinois Right to Life Action, more than 10,000 people have filed witness slips against the legislation – the strongest opposition that pro-life lobbyist Ralph Rivera said he has ever seen.
“This may be our last chance to have our voices heard,” Illinois Right to Life said after news broke about the bill moving forward. “It is our understanding that a vote could be held on this legislation as soon as today – before they break for the holiday weekend.”
The pro-life organization urged Illinois residents to contact lawmakers and voice their opposition to the legislation.
The bills are pending in the 101st General Assembly as House Bills 2467 & 2495 and Senate Bills 1594 & 1942. The Thomas More Society detailed analysis can be found here.