Abortion opponents demonstrate in state Capitol

  • State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) speaks during a protest Wednesday in the rotunda of the Capitol in Springfield against two abortion bills being considered by the General Assembly.

    State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) speaks during a protest Wednesday in the rotunda of the Capitol in Springfield against two abortion bills being considered by the General Assembly. Capitol News Illinois photo by Rebecca Anzel

 
By Rebecca Anzel
Capitol News Illinois
ranzel@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD -- Legislators, advocates and hundreds of Illinoisans crowded the rotunda of the Capitol on Wednesday to condemn a package of reproductive health measures that would revise abortion law.

The bills are proposed by four Democrats from both chambers of the General Assembly. One would allow a minor to get an abortion procedure without notifying her parent or guardian. The other would repeal and replace the state's abortion statute with language supporters say is more up-to-date.

"Politicians who do not put life first cannot be trusted," Mary Kate Knorr, executive director of Illinois Right to Life Action, said. "So we are here today to tell our legislators that if they do not put life and women first in the state of Illinois, they do not have a place in our statehouse."

Knorr's group was one of the organizers of the rally. The others were the Pro-Life Action League and the Illinois Family Institute.

The coalition opposes legislation to repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion Act, which mandates a minor consult her parent or guardian before having an abortion.

Parents should not be "kept in the dark" about medical decisions their children are making, or procedures they are getting, said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Action League.

Democrats voted the Senate version of the bill out of committee Tuesday, and it will go to the full Senate. The House version of the bill appears to be stalled.

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Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, although never commenting on whether he supports this specific legislation, has vowed to "make Illinois the most progressive state in the nation for access to reproductive health care."

The group more fervently protests the Reproductive Health Act, a bill that, among other things, would create reproductive health care as a fundamental right in Illinois; require private health insurance companies that cover pregnancy-related benefits to also cover abortion procedures; and allow physician-assistants to perform abortions.

"I feel a little bit like I've fallen through the rabbit hole," Rep. Terri Bryant, a Republican from downstate Murphysboro, said. "Everything is upside-down, backwards and inside-out in just using the name."

The bill has nothing to do with reproductive health, she argued.

Bryant asked everyone in attendance to fill out an electronic witness slip on the General Assembly's website to oppose both pieces of legislation. She said she would request each of the thousands of names be read on the floor of the House.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The secretary of state's office estimates about 4,000 people were inside the statehouse during the anti-abortion demonstration, both attending the event and an unrelated lobbying effort.

According to a news release, people were brought to the Capitol by bus from across the state.

"Friends, I believe there's a sleeping giant that's been awoken, and it's called the Church of Illinois," Republican Rep. Darren Bailey of downstate Xenia said to a cheering crowd.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, although never commenting on whether he supports this specific legislation, has vowed to "make Illinois the most progressive state in the nation for access to reproductive health care."

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