‘Extreme’ abortion bill passes Illinois Senate as session nears end

With the clock winding down on its regular session, the Illinois Senate debated and passed what has come to be known as the Reproductive Health Act. The vote on Senate Bill 25 was 34 to 20 in favor of the legislation, with three voting “present” late in the evening of May 31.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he would sign it into law.

The Catholic bishops of Illinois spoke out against earlier versions of the proposed legislation during a press conference at the State Capitol on March 28, and throughout the last week continued to urge the members of the Illinois General Assembly to reject the measure, which they called “extreme.”

“The state of Illinois should be known for its great leadership in our nation, not its great destruction of human life.” — Msgr. Mark Merdian

“The bill dramatically rewrites current abortion law, going further than Roe v. Wade in stripping human rights and dignity from the unborn child with this single statement: ‘A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this state,’” they said in a statement as the final week of the 101st General Assembly began.

“The fundamental premise of the bill is flawed, and no amendment or tweak to the language will change the fact that it is designed to rob the vulnerable life in the womb of any trace of human dignity and value,” the bishops said.

They weren’t the only ones with concerns.

“This is not what our state should be known for,” said Msgr. Mark Merdian, episcopal vicar for health care for the Diocese of Peoria, after the bill was passed by the Illinois House on May 28. “The state of Illinois should be known for its great leadership in our nation, not its great destruction of human life.”

Not only is this type of law unjust, he said, but it creates a culture of disrespect for all life — inside and outside the womb.

“When we start to take away the rights of the most disenfranchised or the most unprotected, then this continues to rapidly expand, whether it’s the handicapped, those who have any disabilities, the elderly,” according to Msgr. Merdian, who is also the pastor of St. Pius X in Rock Island. “There would be easy targets to this current culture if we allow this to prevail.”

Now it’s a matter of really reaching out and really educating and re-evangelizing and educating with science . . . the dignity and beauty of life at all stages. — Cecilia Soñé

Cecilia Soñé, diocesan respect life director and a family nurse practitioner with OSF Women’s Health and FertilityCare in Normal, said that while she was “reeling” over what was happening, she didn’t despair.

“I don’t lose hope. Christ won the battle on the cross,” she told The Catholic Post. “Now it’s a matter of really reaching out and really educating and re-evangelizing and educating with science . . . the dignity and beauty of life at all stages.”

She added that she’s a fighter.

“This is a good time to get into spiritual warfare with that rosary,” Soñé said.

MORE TO COME

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