OPINION: Lake County’s Prominent Position in the National Debate on Abortion
Both sides of the abortion issue are focused on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh was proposed to President Trump by the Federalist Society, a pro-life group with an originalist view of the U.S. Constitution. Like most of the pro-life movement, I hope Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate – and that he is the necessary vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Conversely, organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), which are financially dependent on legal abortion, view Judge Kavanaugh as a threat to 45 years of political, cultural, and legal success since Roe v. Wade.
Many pro-life advocates believe overturning Roe v. Wade will be a major victory for our movement. They are right. But even this important change won’t win the abortion battle for pro-lifers. It will instead return the fight to the states – and Lake County Right to Life (LCRTL) will be ready for victory in Illinois.
We are currently working with elected officials and groups across Illinois and in Washington, D.C. to make sure women choose life rather than abortion. LCRTL, along with other pro-life groups, backs legislation that would ban late-term abortions – the point at which babies feel pain. Another piece of legislation would ensure that women who want to have an abortion are offered an opportunity to view an ultrasound of their baby before undergoing an abortion. Another important legislative effort is aimed at requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers. This would require abortion clinics to be inspected, which is presently not being done in Illinois.
These legislative efforts are based on sound principles. Unborn children are members of the human race and have an inalienable right to life. Their mothers need to be informed of the consequences of abortion. Women need to be informed and supported in their roles as mothers, so the importance of an ultrasound legislation is crucial. We know that when an uncertain mother views the ultrasound picture of her baby, her desire to abort her pregnancy is likely to change to life.
But facts only go so far. LCRTL also recognizes that legislation protecting life depends on electing pro-life legislators. This election cycle is crucial, especially if Roe is overturned in the near future.
Since the Roe decision in l973, political attitudes on abortion have changed. The influx of young people attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C. has brought energy and a new commitment to a younger generation. The national March has inspired a Chicago-area March which brings busloads of people from across the county.
We see a tide reversal nationally. In Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1564 which forces pro-life pregnancy resource centers and doctors to refer for abortion. In response to this egregious assault on the freedom of speech of the First Amendment, a similar law in California was taken to the Supreme Court. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment freedom of speech rights in the NIFLA vs. Becerra ruling. We are continuing our efforts through the courts in Illinois on SB 1564 and have great hope that this bill will also be found unconstitutional. Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination and the recent NIFLA victory show the national tide is changing on abortion. These victories were unimaginable in the years following the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
While abortion is still controversial, the pro-life movement is succeeding. LCRTL’s annual Benefit Banquet – once attended by just a handful of ardent pro-life advocates each July – is a must-come event for many elected officials. Congressman Randy Hultgren, Illinois Republican Party co-chair Mark Shaw, Lake County Board Democrat Mary Ross-Cunningham, and Mundelein Mayor Steve Lenz are just some of the influential people we have seen at our tables.
Political and cultural tides change, of course, so we are preparing for future success right now. We are engaging legislatively to make abortion unimaginable. We are a founding Board Member of the March for Life – Chicago. It reinforces the broad scope of the pro-life movement. On July 27th, at our Benefit Banquet, we heard Mary Hallon FioRito, who holds a chair in the Ethics and Public Policy Center, use facts, love, confidence, and history as a strategy to win in the long run.
We also fully support the 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers nationwide that are dedicated to helping pregnant women choose life. All the laws, tactics, and marches in the world aren’t worth anything if we aren’t saving lives and changing minds one at a time.
I cannot predict if Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation will bring a review by the Court of the Roe v. Wade decision, but whatever the decision, Lake County Right to Life is working to make Illinois a leader in defending human life.
– Bonnie Quirke, President, Lake County Right to Life