Catholic Bishops Warn Against Radical Illinois Abortion Measures

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 20: Archbishop-Elect Blase Cupich speaks to the press on September 20, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Cupich, who served as bishop in Spokane, Washington, will succeed Chicago's Francis Cardinal George, who has been fighting a long battle with cancer, to become the 9th archbishop of Chicago. This …
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DR. SUSAN BERRY

The Catholic bishops of Illinois joined together Thursday at the state capitol in Springfield to warn citizens the state is poised to pass the most extreme expansion of abortion rights in the nation.

During a press conference arranged by the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, spoke on behalf of all the bishops in attendance as he questioned why the current radical abortion measures were necessary as Illinois already has such liberal abortion laws.

“The so-named Reproductive Health Act, embodied in House Bill 2495 and Senate Bill 1942 calls for a complete overhaul of the state’s abortion laws, stripping the unborn child of any rights,” Cupich said. “This legislation states that ‘a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have any rights under the laws of this State.’”

Cupich noted supporters of the measures claim they are necessary in order to continue abortion access should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

The cardinal continued, however, that former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law in 2017 that removed the “trigger language” that would have allowed a return to the state’s former policy of banning abortions except in the case of danger to the mother’s life, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

“What, then, is the problem this legislation solves?” Cupich asked, then continued:

Further, the legislation removes the right of health care workers to refuse to participate in a procedure that violates their right of conscience. Does the State of Illinois really want to become a place where people are forced to do things in their workplace that are against their most deeply held beliefs?

Cupich added that HB 2467 — the Repeal of Parental Notification — would circumvent parental rights and consent in the case of a minor seeking an abortion.

“The current parental notification requirement can be waived if a court finds a minor sufficiently mature and well enough informed to decide to have the abortion,” he said. “In fact, this override has been granted in hundreds of cases.”

“Again, a solution in search of a problem,” Cupich asserted.

The cardinal observed that medical science and the love of parents have allowed the survival of babies born prematurely.

“How are these little ones different from the unborn without rights this legislation describes?” he asked. “Who lives? Who dies? Who decides?”

“The state and its leaders have not only a responsibility but also a vested interest in defending the sacredness and value of every human life,” Cupich said, describing the legislation as “the latest attack on human dignity” and “motivated by the dominant cultural ethic that asserts the lives of unborn children have no value and sanctity when weighed against the wishes and needs of others.”

The Illinois chapters of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, have pressed the state legislature to pass measures that would make partial-birth abortion legal in the state.

With a Democrat super-majority and the support of Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker — who said his goal is to make his state “the most progressive in the nation” when it comes to abortion — four lawmakers introduced bills that would repeal most restrictions on abortion and make the procedure a fundamental right.

Dr. Jillian Stalling, an OB/GYN with OSF HealthCare in Peoria, joined the bishops at the press conference.

“Part of House Bill 2495 and Senate Bill 1942 would repeal the Illinois Abortion Performance Refusal Act,” she said. “This law protects health care professionals and hospitals from any legal action when they refuse to participate in an abortion.”

“As physicians, we take an oath to do no harm,” Stalling continued. “I am alarmed by the statement in the legislation that an embryo or fetus has no independent rights. This is exploitive language that can be used to attack any legislation that protects the unborn.”

Stalling said she is asking Illinois lawmakers to preserve the conscience rights of medical professionals.

“I love taking care of women and delivering babies,” she said. “If this legislation passes, I am not going to leave the medical profession and abandon women who need good health care. But I will refuse to participate in an abortion.”

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