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Is Pro-Life Legislative Success Possible in Illinois?
Illinois Right to Life | 25 August 2022
While June 24, 2022, was a day for pro-lifers across the country to celebrate, many of us in blue states, like Illinois, knew that our work was just beginning.
Abortion advocates in Illinois had been preparing for this day for years. Beginning in 2019 and through the pandemic years, Planned Parenthood of Illinois opened three “mega-clinics” on Illinois’s borders with Wisconsin,[i] Indiana,[ii] and Missouri.[iii] They increased their capacity to perform chemical abortions at their Chicago clinic,[iv] moving to a new location situated between the Magnificent Mile shopping hub and the Museum Campus – the city’s two tourist hotspots. Planned Parenthood of Illinois and Wisconsin have joined forces[v] to bring more abortionists to Illinois, and new clinics are springing up in Carbondale[vi] to the south and Rockford[vii] to the north.
On the Missouri border, the Fairview Heights, Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic and Granite City’s inappropriately-named Hope Clinic (which routinely accepts patients well into their second trimester) joined forces to create a pro-abortion Regional Logistics Center.[viii] This center provides women with travel, lodging, and childcare assistance to aid women traveling to Illinois for abortion.
Illinois’s governor, billionaire J.B. Pritzker, has made no secret of the fact that he wants to make Illinois an abortion destination[ix] for the women of the Midwest – and beyond. In recent weeks, he has expanded taxpayer funding of abortion. Beginning[x] with the early May leak of the draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case Governor Pritzker has become the abortion industry’s biggest friend, stating that Illinois will be a “beacon of hope”[xi] for women seeking abortion.
Aside from the obvious – abortion is the absolute antithesis of hope – Pritzker himself has made abortion, which causes the brutal deaths of the most innocent, incredibly dangerous for women.
Governor Pritzker claims he trusts women[xii], but he doesn’t even respect them.
The 2019 Reproductive Health Act (RHA)[xiii] made Illinois a haven for the abortion industry at the expense of women’s health and safety. Under the Illinois RHA:
The vast majority of Illinois abortion clinics are no longer required to be inspected by the state;
Coroners are no longer required to investigate women’s deaths at abortion clinics;
Abortionists do not face discipline for performing abortions on women who are not pregnant;
Early abortions seemingly can be performed anywhere;
By removal of specific language, the state of Illinois is no longer required to ensure abortions are performed safely or that women are treated adequately;
Information about abortions performed in Illinois is hidden from the public.
Adding to the extremism in Illinois, last year the state became the first in the nation to repeal[xiv] a parental involvement law. The House passed[xv] legislation to repeal the Illinois’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act late at night during the legislature’s special veto session in October. In December of last year, late on a Friday the week before Christmas, Pritzker signed the legislation. His reasons for doing so were predicated on a lie: Pritzker claimed[xvi] that repeal was necessary to protect girls who were victims of abuse, despite the fact that the law contained[xvii] a blanket waiver to protect such girls.
The actions of Governor Pritzker and the abortion industry in Illinois are working. Planned Parenthood estimates[xviii] the number of women coming to Illinois for abortions will jump by 20 - 30 thousand annually. On August 2, the Chicago Tribune reported[xix] that Planned Parenthood’s client load in Illinois had increased by 800 abortions in July alone.
Is there any hope for a state like Illinois? Yes. While it may seem impossible, the facts, and history, are on our side.
First, Illinois was a pro-life state, by and large, until 2017,[xx] when Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB 40 which expanded Medicaid funding of abortion and eradicated our state’s abortion ban. The Reproductive Health Act followed in 2019 that repealed the Parental Notice of Abortion in 2021. The thing all of these bills had in common was that they all passed by a mere handful of votes in the Illinois House.
In the Illinois House, a bill must have 60 votes to pass. HB 40 passed by 62 votes,[xxi] the RHA passed by 64 votes,[xxii] and the repeal of Parental Notice of Abortion passed by only 62 votes.[xxiii]
Despite the fact that there are pro-abortion super-majorities in both the Illinois House and Senate, many legislators understand that our abortion laws are too extreme and put women in grave danger. Additionally, the pro-abortion lobby in Illinois, led by a radical, pro-abortion organization called Personal PAC, uses strong-armed tactics[xxiv] that have repelled a number of legislators. Personal PAC’s slogan is “Pro-Choice, No Exceptions” and they mean it.
Second, the people of Illinois believe that our abortion laws are too extreme. As I’ve traveled around the state over the past year and a half, I have been shocked at how many Illinoisans are unaware of just how extreme our abortion laws are. These are not just pro-life individuals who believe this. Polling conducted earlier this year by Illinois Right to Life in the left-leaning Chicago suburbs indicated a majority of voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported provisions of the RHA.[xxv] Other polling conducted in March[xxvi] of 2021 proved that 72 percent of Illinois voters, including 55 percent who identified as pro-choice, opposed the repeal of parental notice of abortion.
Illinoisans do not support the radical agenda of Governor J.B. Pritzker, the abortion industry, or pro-abortion radicals in the Illinois legislature, and Illinois is not a lost cause. If pro-life advocates do not work to effect change in Illinois, however, we will continue down the road of abortion extremism. It is imperative for our neighboring states as well as states throughout the Midwest and beyond to understand this: As long as Illinois’s radical pro-abortion laws are in place, the pro-life laws of other states are rendered incredibly ineffective.
Illinois Right to Life is currently conducting polling and voter modeling in a number of key districts where pro-abortion incumbents are vulnerable. We will let targeted voters know what is really happening in Illinois and that their elected officials oftentimes care more about doing the will of the abortion industry rather than that of their constituents.
We know that it will only take a handful of new pro-life legislators to stop the plans of abortion advocates in Illinois. This includes plans to allow nurse practitioners to perform first-trimester surgical abortions[xxvii] as well as plans that would jeopardize[xxviii] pregnancy resource centers throughout the state.
When our legislature comes back into session next January, pro-life advocates must have a rock-solid legislative strategy that will expose the extremity of our laws. There are many things pro-life advocates can do – get behind a bill to require state health inspections of abortion clinics, restore coroners’ investigations of deaths at abortion clinics, or simply restore language that would require women to be treated “adequately” at clinics.
Legislation is an incredible educational tool and, right now, the people of Illinois are in dire need of education regarding our abortion laws.
For pro-lifers to succeed we must have political courage on behalf of our leaders. Pro-life organizations must work together strategically towards a common goal. Our friends in neighboring states must take the threat our state’s laws pose seriously and work with us to make substantial changes in Illinois abortion law.
The women of Illinois, the Midwest, and, in fact, the nation do not deserve to have their health and safety completely disregarded by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and his friends in the abortion industry. Their children certainly don’t deserve brutal deaths in unsafe, unregulated clinics.
[i] Mary Kate Knorr, “In the Midst of Quarantine, New Planned Parenthood Opens in Illinois” IllinoisRightToLife.org, May 13, 2020
[ii] Ted Slowik, “New abortion clinic increases abortion access in south Suburbs” ChicagoTribune.com, January 26, 2018
[iii] Kate Smith “Planned Parenthood has been building a secret ‘mega-clinic’ in Illinois” CBSNews.com, October 2, 2019
[iv]Tori Shaw “Planned Parenthood Where Patient Died Expands in New Location” LiveAction.com, March 19, 2022
[v] Kristen Schorsch “Abortion is legal in Illinois. In Wisconsin, it’s nearly banned. So clinics teamed up.” NPR.org, August 11, 2022
[vi] Brian Munoz “In one southern Illinois town, residents grapple with abortion’s past and future” StLouisPublicRadio.org, August 5, 2022
[vii] Associated Press “Wisconsin doctor buys Illinois buildings to offer abortions” APNews.com, July 13, 2022
[viii] Jenna Jones “With Abortion Access Under Attack, Logistics Center in Illinois Renews Hope” RiverFrontTimes.com, January 21, 2022
[ix] Celeste Bott “Illinois to Become ‘Abortion Oasis’ in Wake of Dobbs Ruling” Law360.com, June 27, 2022
[xi] Tina Sfondeles “Pritzker Vows Illinois Will Remain ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Women Amid Leaked Supreme Court Decision” WBEZChicago.org, May 3, 2022
[xii]NBC 5 Chicago, “’We Will Fight Back.’ Pritzker, Illinois Officials React to Supreme Court Ruling on Roe v. Wade” NBCChicago.com, June 24, 2022
[xiii] Illinois Senate Bill 0025 LRB101, 00199, RLC 45201b
[xiv] PBS News Hour “Illinois Governor Repeals Law Requiring Parental Notification of Abortion” PBS.org, December 17, 2021
[xv] CBS News “Illinois House Passes Legislation to Repeal Parental Notification Abortion Law” CBSNews.com, October 28, 2021
[xvi] Jeremy Gorner, “Governor Pritzker Oks law that required parents of minors to be informed when their child seeks an abortion” ChicagoTribune.com, December 17, 2021
[xvii]Catholic Conference of Illinois Fact Sheet “Please Oppose Repealing the Parental Notice of Abortion Act” October 2021
[xviii] Steff Chavez “Safe Haven Illinois Braces for Surge in Abortion Demand” FT.com, July 6, 2022
[xix] Angie Levintis Lourgos “Abortions in Illinois for Out-of-State Patients Have Skyrocketed. And Some Wait Times Exceed Three Weeks” ChicagoTribune.com, August 2, 2022
[xx] Natalie Moore, “From Police Raids to Reproductive Justice, Abortion History in Illinois is Long and Bumpy” WBEZ.org, June 25, 2022
[xxi] State of Illinois 100th General Assembly House Roll Call Vote, House Bill 40, ILGA.gov, April 25, 2017
[xxii] State of Illinois 101st General Assembly House Roll Call Vote, Senate Bill 25, ILGA.gov, May 28, 2019
[xxiii] State of Illinois 102nd General Assembly House Roll Call Vote, HB 370, ILGA.gov, October 27, 2021
[xxiv] Patrick Pfingsten, “Terry Cosgrove’s Divided Personal PAC Legacy” TheIllinoize.com, March 21, 2022
[xxv] Brushfire Survey, Apr 26, 2022 n=804 Registered Voters in IL HD 48
[xxvi] The Tarrance Group, Inc., March 7-10, 2021, n=600 Registered Illinois Voters
[xxvii] Sarah Fentem, “Pritzker, Illinois Providers Call for More Doctors, Nurses to Perform Abortions” StlPublicRadio.org, June 1, 2022
[xxviii] State of Illinois 102nd General Assembly, Bill Status of HB 4221, ILGA.gov