My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the movie, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, the shocking true story of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murdering three infants born alive following his botched abortion procedures. He was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter of one woman who died during an abortion procedure at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Gosnell is currently in prison for life without parole.
Now another movie has been made and has been showing in theaters about the gruesome realities of the abortion industry. Unplanned tells the true story of a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson, who was once honored as Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the Year, but who quit after she witnessed an ultrasound of a live abortion in which she saw a 13-week unborn child jump away from the suction tube and then be pulled apart limb by limb. Because the movie depicted the dismemberment of this unborn baby, the movie was given an R rating. Apparently the Motion Picture Association of America found abortion to be violent, since there is no offensive language, nudity, vulgarity, or any other kind of violence in the movie. Ironically, that means that a minor under the age of 17 cannot go to see this movie without being accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, yet a minor can obtain an abortion in Illinois without parental consent and in many other states without even parental notification.
Here in Illinois, some Democrat lawmakers are pushing House Bills 2467 and 2495, and Senate Bills 1594 and 1942. Among other things, these bills would make abortion a fundamental right and would repeal parental notification, which is currently required in Illinois when a minor seeks an abortion.
This past March 28, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and I, along with the diocesan bishops of the other four Catholic dioceses in Illinois, held a press conference at the State Capitol in Springfield to express our opposition to these extreme proposals. It is not often that all of the bishops gather at the Capitol, so the extraordinary presence of all six diocesan bishops in Illinois was intended to send a clear message that we ― as a church ― are united in our opposition to these abortion bills and we call on all people of good will to oppose them.
Opposition to these extreme abortion bills is not only a matter of Catholic teaching. Polls of the general public show that 87 percent of Americans do not favor legal abortion in the third trimester and 63 percent of Americans would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Moreover, 92 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats want “significant restrictions” on abortions according to a Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus last year.
Following our press conference at the State Capitol, I had the opportunity to talk with several of our Catholic legislators who represent districts in our diocese here in central Illinois and I urged them to vote against these abortion bills. The following legislators pledged to vote “no” on the proposed abortion bills currently pending in the Illinois General Assembly: Rep. Monica Bristow (D-Alton), Rep. Timothy Butler (R-Springfield), Rep. Mike Murphy (R-Springfield), Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), Sen. Rachelle Crowe (D-Alton), and Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy). I commend them for their courage in standing up for the right to life of unborn babies.
I also had a very positive meeting with Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis), who is not Catholic. She said she normally considers herself to be “pro-choice” but will vote “no” on these bills because she has been hearing from her constituents that the bills are too extreme. She is concerned about the proposed repeal of parental notification of a minor seeking abortion. Hopefully other “pro-choice” legislators will begin to see how extreme these measures are and will vote to oppose them.
The only legislator I contacted who has not responded to me is Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville), who cancelled a meeting with me and has not returned phone calls or email inquiries from me and my staff. He did vote against abortion bill HB 40 in 2017, so we can hope that he will vote against these new abortion bills as well. We cannot take that for granted, however, so it is important for constituents to contact his office and let him know your opposition to these abortion bills.
In fact, all voters should continue to express their opposition to HB 2467, SB 1594, HB 2495 and SB 1942 to prevent these dreadful bills from being enacted. To find out the name and contact information of your elected officials, go to our diocesan website for Pro-life Activities and Special Ministries, www.dio.org/plasm.
As we enter into our Holy Week observances, commemorating Our Savior’s passage from his death on Good Friday to the new life of his resurrection on Easter Sunday gives us hope that our culture of death can be transformed into a culture of life.
May God give us this grace. Amen.