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Friday, May 31, 2019

The Illinois Senate late tonight passed the misnamed “Reproductive Health Act” as embodied in Senate Bill 25 on a 34-20 vote, with three lawmakers voting “present.” The House previously passed the measure, so the bill now goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who previously has said he will sign it into law.

Click here to view the Senate vote count. The House vote may be seen here.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois is not issuing a statement upon final passage, having published statements after House passage and before Senate consideration. However, some of our bishops are issuing individual statements, and those may be found below:

Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago

Statement of Bishop David J. Malloy, Diocese of Rockford

Statement of Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, Diocese of Joliet

The “Reproductive Health Act” gained steam early last week, as proponents pushed the overhaul of Illinois abortion law in response to pro-life legislation passed in several southern states. Originally introduced in House Bill 2495/Senate Bill 1942, the “Reproductive Health Act” goes further than Roe v. Wade in stripping rights from the unborn child with this single sentence: “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.”

House Bill 2495 and Senate Bill 1942 were both buried in subcommittee most of the legislative session, but the issue broke loose and appeared Sun., May 26 as a House Amendment to Senate Bill 25. The new version of the RHA remedies two objections to the original legislation by including conscience protections for doctors, nurses, medical personnel and hospitals who refuse to participate in an abortion. The amendment also restricts surgical abortions to physicians.

However, the bill still represents a major expansion of abortion in Illinois, as outlined in testimony submitted to the Senate Public Health Committee by CCI Executive Director Robert Gilligan.

Our six Catholic Illinois bishops in February issued a joint statement against the legislation — as well as a proposed repeal of the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act. They followed up with a statement on May 26, urging lawmakers to decline consideration of the RHA: “We urge all legislators to consider the common good of the state in these final days of the session and refrain from interjecting chaos into their deliberations by considering the morally- and emotionally-divisive and politically-charged ‘Reproductive Health Act.'”

CCI this spring also held two Life Advocacy Days at the Illinois Capitol, when at least 650 Catholics on each of both days travelled to Springfield to lobby their lawmakers against the legislation. Additionally, the Catholic Conference sent out numerous email alerts on the legislation to subscribers of its Illinois Catholic Advocacy Network and did extensive social media.

Bishops issued letters to parishioners at Mass, personally contacted every Catholic state lawmaker residing in their dioceses, and appeared at a press conference at the state Capitol.