State

Catholic leaders say Illinois abortion legislation an affront to religious freedoms

Bills presented by Democrats called ‘an assault on human dignity’

Robert Gilligan, executive director of Catholic Conference of Illinois
Robert Gilligan, executive director of Catholic Conference of Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ Catholic leaders said Thursday that proposed legislation pending in the General
Assembly greatly expanding reproductive rights in the state treads on their First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

One of the measures, called the Reproductive Health Act, would repeal the Prairie State’s abortion law and replace it with language that its Democratic sponsors call more up-to-date. Among other things, it would require private insurance companies to cover abortion procedures, repeal a ban on partial-birth abortions and strike a requirement that only doctors perform the procedure.

The other measure would repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion Act, which requires a minor to consult with her parent or guardian before terminating a pregnancy.

Robert Gilligan, executive director of Catholic Conference of Illinois, said Thursday that these measures are evidence that the state is “headed on the wrong path.” The group represents Illinois’ six Catholic bishops.

“These bills taken together crowds us out. For people who have moral objections, they basically are saying we don’t have any rights,” Gilligan said. “That’s what’s going on, that people with First Amendment rights are being crowded out of protections under the law.”

By regulating private insurance companies to cover abortion procedures as they do birth control, for example, Gilligan said everyone who participates financially in that insurance plan is paying for such procedures with no ability to opt out.

The measure also would remove a law allowing medical professionals to decline to participate in abortion procedures, which he added raises other moral questions.

“It’s hard to come up with a word that really describes how bad this is,” Gilligan said. “I think it’s an assault on human dignity, and it violates our concept of fairness.”

The first pair of legislation, which repeals the Abortion Act of 1974, is House Bill 2495 and Senate Bill 1942. The second pair of legislation, repealing the Parental Notification of Abortion Act, is House Bill 2467 and Senate Bill 1594. All four are sponsored by Democratic lawmakers.

The initiatives mirror those presented in a report published by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Equality, Equity and Opportunities transition team. The governor has vowed to “make Illinois the most progressive state in the nation for access to reproductive health care.”

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com and all Shaw Media Illinois content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.