July 25, 2017

Illinois Legislative Update - Summer 2017

Dear Pro-Life Friend,

Finally, the legislators have left Springfield.  At least for now, we can take a deep breath and rest from the onslaught that is the Illinois General Assembly.  Our rest will be brief and the assault on life will be brutal but for now let’s see where we stand as of July 2017.

House Bill 40 Abortion-Various (HB40)

At this time HB40 remains in the Senate.  This terrible bill was introduced on December 20, 2016 by Rep. Sarah Feigenholtz, a Democrat from the 12th Representative District in Chicago.  Those of you who have been to Springfield to lobby or have been following legislation in Springfield over the years know that Rep. Feigenholtz frequently sponsors anti-life legislation and is an enemy to innocent lives. 

HB40 is devastating in its scope.  There is no tax dollar safe when Rep. Feigenholtz sets her sight on funding abortion.  HB40 removes any restriction on taxpayer funding of Medicaid abortions.  Taxpayers will be forced to pay for all abortions for any reason at any time during the pregnancy.  It removes restrictions on state employee health insurance so that all abortions are covered.  It removes a rule that prohibits the award of a state grant to non-profit organizations that refer or perform abortions.  (Think Planned Parenthood). It removes a rule that prohibits an abortionist found guilty of performing abortions on non-pregnant women from performing abortions again. And it removes the language in the 1975 Illinois Abortion Statue which states Illinois recognizes that life begins at conception, that an unborn child is a human being and if there is a change in federal law, Illinois will return to its previous policy.  Although the language in the statute does not have the authority to trigger this reversal of policy the inclusion of this language in HB40 reveals the deep disdain pro-abortion legislators have for unborn human beings.  

HB40 was heard in the House Human Services Committee on February 8, 2017.  This committee with 12 members (7 Democrats and 5 Republicans) voted the bill out of the committee to the House floor with 7 yes and 5 nays. 

On April 25, 2017 the House passed the bill by a vote of 62 yes and 55 nays. The supporters of the bill needed 60 votes to pass it.  Not one Republican voted for the bill, 50 Republicans voted no. (There was one Republican with Excused Absence).  Five (5) Democrats (Beiser, Costello, Hoffman, Phelps and Scherer) voted against the bill as well.

HB40 was assigned to the Senate Human Services Committee on May 2, 2017.  It passed out of that committee on May 5, 2017 with 6 yes votes (all 6 of the Democrats) and 4 nays (all of the Republicans on the committee). 

The bill was called for a vote on the Senate floor and passed on May 10, 2017 with 33 yes (all Democrats), 4 “NV” (Democrats not voting) and 22 nays (all Republicans).  They needed 30 to pass it.

On that same day Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Legislative District 39 (Oak Park), who voted for HB40, filed a Motion to Reconsider Vote. Therefore, HB40 has not been forwarded to the Governor and has been sitting in the Senate on hold waiting for the Reconsideration Vote. 

Gov. Rauner announced that he was going to veto HB40.  The supporters of HB40 in the Senate will need 36 votes to override a veto.  They only received 33 votes.  The House supporters will need 71 votes to override a veto.  Perhaps this explains the Motion to Reconsider Vote.  For now, we wait to see what the proponents will do next to try to move the bill forward. 

SJRCA4 – Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 4
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

It’s back.  Like a reoccurring nightmare.  The pro-aborts simply can’t let it go.  Let’s review the long history of this zombie bill. 

The ERA is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was presented to the states for ratification on March 17, 1972.  The deadline was 7 years to obtain the necessary 38 states voting yes to amend the constitution.  Initially 35 states did ratify the amendment however 5 states rescinded their ratification once they understood the negative consequences of passing the ERA in their state.  In 1978, Congress passed an extension of time extending the deadline to June 30, 1982.  In 1982 the U. S. Supreme Court declared that the ERA was dead. DEAD. But apparently the proponents just don’t understand DEAD.

What does the ERA say? 

“Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex”. It does more than provide equal protection under the law.  It demands equality of rights.  That sounds fair but here is what happens with that language:

All restrictions on abortion would be overturned.  That means parental notification or consent laws, waiting periods or ultrasound legislation would disappear. There would be mandated taxpayer funding of elective abortions.  Why?  Because abortion is unique to women and therefore restricting abortion is a form of sex discrimination under the ERA language.  Beyond the abortion issue it has negative implications for labor laws that benefit women; social security benefits for stay at home moms and the military draft for women.  It would remove gender designations for bathrooms, locker rooms, jails and hospital rooms. Just to name a few of the known consequences of this constitutional amendment.

This year the ERA was introduced in the Illinois Senate on February 7, 2017.  The sponsor is Sen. Heather A. Steans, a Democrat from the 7th Legislative District in Chicago.  It was heard in the Senate Executive Committee on April 27, 2017.  The Executive Committee is comprised of 17 members.  It received 12 yes votes (11 Democrats and 1 Republican), 3 nays (Republicans) and 2 “Present” (Republicans). 

It was placed on “Calendar Order of First Reading Constitutional Amendments” on April 27th and has remained there since that time.  It can be called when the legislature is in session again.

The proponents have a “three state strategy”.  They ignore the states that rescinded their ratification.  Nevada recently ratified the ERA.  That lives Virginia and Illinois to bring the number of states ratifying the ERA to 38 under their strategy.  That is why our work to stop the ERA in Illinois is so important.

The above are the immediate threats to life in Illinois.  However, we believe soon legislation will be introduced in our state that will put all of us at risk.

It is only a matter of time before euthanasia descends on the Land of Lincoln.  It is already happening in other states.  We must be prepared to fight any efforts to end the lives of the elderly and vulnerable.  At some point, we will all be the target of this evil agenda to end lives deemed not worth living. 

We will remain diligent in our work to protect our religious liberty.  We must remember to pray for the pregnancy resource centers that are engaged in court battles to restore their right of conscious.

And so, the war rages on. Thank you for your courage in the face of the enemy.  Thank you for standing with us.  We can battle against this darkness but only if we battle together.  Some are on the front lines contending those who oppose the right to life face-to-face. Some are prayer warriors, who in their secret place, pray for wisdom, knowledge and understanding within our ranks. Some give of their time, some of their resources. Never-the less, we are all participating in a righteous effort to promote a culture of life for all. We need each other.

Yes, it is summer but the bills do not take a vacation.  They do not rest.  We at the Illinois Federation for Right to Life count on your financial support to continue the fight.  Please consider a generous donation so that when the legislators return and those who oppose us begin their death march against life we will be able to resist and overcome them. 

Thank you for your past support.  We know that without your donations and prayers we simply could not do this sacred work.  May God bless you richly for all that you do and someday we will celebrate victory together as partners for the cause of Life in the State of Illinois.

Dawn Behnke

IFRL President