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Illinois SB 818:
A Dangerous Gateway to Normalizing Abortion
Amy Gehrke | 26 August 2021
The goal of Illinois abortion advocates during the 2021 legislative session was to expand their empire on the backs of Illinois children. Their top legislative priority was to repeal Illinois’s last pro-life law – Parental Notification of Abortion. A close second was to pass a comprehensive sex education bill that would give Planned Parenthood unlimited access to Illinois schoolchildren from kindergarten through 12th grade.
With pro-abortion super-majorities in the Illinois House and Senate, Illinois Right to Life went into the legislative session hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. When the legislature finally went home after a marathon Memorial Day weekend session, pro-life advocates actually walked away with some victories.
Unfortunately, an amended version of the sex education bill was passed in May and signed into law by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Friday, August 21.[i] Unsurprisingly, Pritzker, along with other supporters of the bill, glossed over some of its more egregious aspects, saying it would simply, “keep our children safe,” by teaching important lessons like consent and internet safety. They added that this bill did the important work of standardizing sex education across the state and ensuring that no child in an Illinois public school classroom felt “stigmatized or excluded.”
Like a lot of legislation in Illinois, the real intentions of the sex-ed bill are much more sinister than they appear at face value. This bill seeks to normalize alternative lifestyles and sexual behavior many parents would take issue with. In addition – and this is the reason Illinois Right to Life Action opposed this bill – it seeks to normalize abortion as just another medical procedure among children beginning in elementary school.
It's no surprise that Planned Parenthood and other Illinois abortion advocates were strong supporters of this legislation. With the new sex education standards, the abortion industry can begin indoctrinating children as young as five. By the time children are in junior high and high school, the abortion industry can recruit them as new abortion customers.
In addition to the extreme curriculum, this bill prohibits abstinence from being taught in Illinois schools.[ii] Public schools must use the new curriculum or nothing at all. Illinois Right to Life and other pro-life groups encourage parents to tell their school boards NOT to allow the new curriculum.
There is a tiny bit of good news. First, parents can opt their children out of these classes. Second, this bill passed with only 60 votes – the bare minimum needed. With the pro-abortion super-majority in the House, it should have passed easily. It didn't.
Clearly, many in the Illinois legislature believe that Illinois is too extreme when it comes to abortion. This was also evidenced last session by the failure of abortion advocates to repeal Illinois’s Parental Notification of Abortion law. This was an enormous victory for Illinois Right to Life Action and our pro-life allies around the state, but the fight isn’t over yet.
The Illinois legislature will return to Springfield in late October for a veto session. The Illinois ACLU and others are pressuring legislators to take up the bill again then. Back in January, before the 2021 legislative session, Illinois abortion advocates made no secret of the fact that repealing Parental Notification was their top priority. It would not be surprising to see it make a return during the October veto session.
That being said, Illinois pro-lifers have many things going for us. A March 2021 Tarrance poll found that 72 percent of Illinois voters opposed repealing Parental Notification of Abortion, including 55 percent who identified as pro-choice.[iii] That number jumped to a whopping 76 percent among people of color. There are certainly many in the legislature who do not want to vote on such an unpopular bill with an election year on the horizon. Despite this, we know that Parental Notification will continue to be a fight in our state.
While Illinois continues to be the abortion haven of the Midwest, there are clear signs that some in the legislature have tired of the extremism being peddled by abortion advocates. Illinois Right to Life is determined to utilize a long-term strategy to educate the people of our state about the extremity of our abortion laws and the humanity of the unborn child to effect real change. This is critical not just for the women and babies of Illinois, but for the women and babies of the entire Midwest – and beyond.
[i] See Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB0818 (ilga.gov). Bill retrieved on August 25, 2021.
[ii] The bill allows parents to allow their children to opt-out of the educational program. However, the state requires each public school to do the program, which the bill graphically spells out what is to be taught. There can be no deviation; therefore, no abstinence education can be taught.
[iii] See TarrancePoll_ParentalNotice_March2021.pdf (dio.org). Poll retrieved on August 25, 2021.
Illinois Right to Life