If You’re Pro-Life In Illinois, Leaving Isn’t An Option

Last week, Turning Point USA founder and executive director Charlie Kirk penned a column for the Daily Herald titled “A fond farewell to state I love that doesn’t seem to love me.” In his article, he laments the financial and moral crises plaguing Illinois and announces a predictable exit to Florida, which lacks an income tax for state residents and boasts an excess of Republican money – attractive qualities for Kirk as an up-and-coming conservative mogul.

Of course, he’s not the first quasi-famous Illinois resident to announce such an exit, nor will he be the last – but his editorial makes some critical points, particularly in reference to Illinois’ millennial demographic that, for someone like me – a millennial, a conservative, and a pro-life activist – demand a pause. Why, given the odds and the reasons to leave, would I choose to stay?

In his column, Kirk points out that Illinois “is in the top five states from which wealthy millennials are departing,” per data from the IRS itself, defining “wealthy millennials” as six-figure earners under the age of 35. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that when unestablished young adults start making real money, they realize they’d rather put down roots anywhere but here. And if a bad pension algorithm in decades past meant big problems for our state at present, imagine what this exodus might mean for the future. Hint: it’s likely bleak.

It’s true Illinois lacks a great deal – prosperity, for starters. J.B. Pritzker’s latest onslaught of tax increases will surely be felt for miles, and the legalization of marijuana combined with the state’s long-standing immigrant sanctuary policies will soon mean a list of troubles as long as my left arm. These policies are disastrous and the outcomes, predictable: poverty, crime, and widespread suffering must follow (although, many would argue poverty, crime, and suffering made a home here long ago). And that’s all without mentioning the General Assembly’s very-public efforts to turn our state into the abortion capital of the nation, going to great lengths to attract abortion providers and pave the way for abortion-seeking travelers from across the U.S.

The abortion issue in Illinois is one worth honing in on. Yesterday, The New Yorker printed an article titled “How Illinois Became An Abortion-Rights Haven.” We’ve been forced to watch these past six months as a frantic national abortion industry has projected the state of Illinois from “abortion-friendly” to its new role as nationwide oasis. It’s rumored that Hope Clinic – which made headlines for this billboard on I-55 – has a parking lot full of cars from states across the country every day. Hotels throughout Chicago provide discounted rooms to women who have an appointment for an abortion procedure nearby. The goal of the Reproductive Healthcare Act – which forces private insurance to cover abortions and removes the need for a doctor to be present, amongst other things – is clearly to achieve more abortions. And if the Repeal of Parental Notification passes in the fall, it’s a matter of time before the decreased rate of abortions performed on minors sees a drastic uptick. Illinois has been hand-picked to single-handedly carry the country’s abortion rate – regardless of the outcomes.

Why does this matter? Because the outcomes will be devastating. Those of us who work in pro-life – at a pregnancy resource center, or in post-abortive counseling, or at an education organization like IRL – know that more abortions means more broken women. It means more Illinois women who will travel through life as merely a shell of themselves. In 2006, a New Zealand study concluded that there is a strong correlation between induced abortion and subsequent mental health issues – such as depression, anxiety, addiction, or suicidal thoughts – when compared with women who had never been pregnant or had carried pregnancies to term. A Canadian study found that women three months post-abortive were five times as likely to experience psychiatric hospitalization, and another study suggests that within one year of their abortions, post-abortive women experience a suicide rate six times higher than women who’d never had an abortion. And these studies are supported by countless more performed across the world that conclude, time and again: abortion is bad for women.

The stats are overwhelming. And what’s more, the CDC reports that black and Hispanic women are significantly more likely to have an abortion in their lifetime. That means these disturbing mental health stats disproportionately affect minority communities – the same communities disproportionately affected by poverty and crime in Illinois, and the same communities that will feel the greatest hurt when bad policies like legalized marijuana set in.

Impoverished Chicago neighborhoods are already experiencing a crisis of the family. Homes on the south and west sides are ravaged by drug abuse and gang violence, and are significantly lacking in father figures. The State of Illinois reports that more than half of incarcerated men are black. Safe to say, fathers have been adequately removed from the picture – and now, by working overtime to increase the rate of abortion in our state, we’re doing irreversible damage to women’s mental health and taking black mothers out right along with them.

These changes to Illinois abortion policy will be lethal. So, when Republicans tout an exodus, I have to ask: why? Why are we leaving? Because the way I see it, we have a moral duty to stay.

Yesterday, I visited a pregnancy resource center that serves a large Hispanic community in Illinois, and is mere blocks from a Planned Parenthood. My welcome was warm and inviting. The waiting room was cozy, bright, and adorned with pamphlets that described adoption as “a profoundly loving and selfless choice.” The clinic’s “boutique” – where new moms are able to shop using credits they accrue through clinic programs – was overflowing with clothes, toys, and diapers. And the clinic’s director – herself, post-abortive – shared a thought with me: in Illinois, our politics are bad – but this means women need us even more.

Her point is gravely critical. Pro-life does not end with politics. I think of Mother Teresa – who scolded the Americans who showed up on her doorstep in Calcutta, looking for someone to serve. “Go home,” she told them. “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us.” As Illinois residents, we find ourselves in one of the most corrupt states in the nation. Our legislators are firmly under the thumb of an abortion PAC that’s wreaked havoc for more than 30 years. We can be frustrated. We can be angry. But we cannot quit, and we cannot leave. We cannot let politics – we cannot let taxes – distract us from the mission, which is to serve women and protect the unborn. How could we leave? We have to stay and fight.

Illinois Democrats Are Preparing To Force Another Major Abortion Bill

Last week, Capitol News Illinois confirmed that democrats in the General Assembly intend to pursue the repeal of Parental Notification during the veto session in the fall.

Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), who’s the primary sponsor of HB 2467 (the Parental Notice Abortion Repeal), confirmed that he’s going to push the bill during the veto session (the last week of October and the second week of November) and, if it fails, he’s “going to go back at it again in January.”

Per CNI:

“Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman,” Welch said. “At the end of the day, I don’t want my wife and my daughter to be equal only in the confines of our home — I want them to be equal in the confines of the law. That’s what this fight is all about.”

So, first and foremost, let’s get something straight: men under the age of 18 are decidedly *not* allowed to receive invasive surgical procedures without the consent of their parents. And actually, since the General Assembly passed HB 0345, men under the age of 21 are not even allowed to buy cigarettes (Rep. Welch sponsored that bill too, by the way).

There is absolutely *no* consistency of thought here. And that’s without mentioning the risks that young girls face without this law serving as a checkpoint in the industry.

Take note of Welch’s word choice in his above quote. “Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman?” Words mean something. We’re not talking about women. We’re talking about *girls* – underage girls, who are at far greater risk of being sexually exploited than almost any other demographic block. In 2017, the youngest girl to receive an abortion that was paid for with taxpayer dollars was a 12-year-old. Any responsible adult can look at this situation and see that something isn’t right.

This isn’t a red herring. Chicago is a national hub for human trafficking. Repealing this law would actually protect traffickers by providing them the opportunity to conceal the consequences of trafficking and continue the cycle of abuse.

One might wonder why the public isn’t outraged at the suggestion of repealing such a common sense law. Funny thing: it is.

Back in March, 12,625 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 490 in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Later in the month, when the bill was scheduled to be heard in committee a second time, 6,980 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 190 filed in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Also in March, more than 4,000 people showed up at a rally held by a group of pro-life organizations to protest HB 2467 at the Illinois State Capitol. The crowds brought the building to max capacity and security had to close the doors. 

Just as the case with the Reproductive Healthcare Act, the public has spoken loudly and clearly on this issue. The question isn’t whether the people of Illinois support this bill – it’s whether or not Illinois democrats care.


GUEST POST: A NICU Nurse’s Take On The Women’s March On Washington

Like many others, I have been closely following the news surrounding the Women’s March occurring in DC today. The conversation surrounding it has been interesting, yet largely unsurprising, and, for me, very frustrating.

I’ve found it frustrating because the March’s purpose and surrounding controversy not only touches on, but stems from two of my greatest passions – (1) infants, both inside and outside of the womb, and (2) womenhood/women’s health.

And to my disappointment, in the present conversation, I find both are being largely misunderstood.

I am a twenty-three year old woman who has led a blessed life in many ways. I have always had a deep love for babies, which led to my dream of working as a nurse in a neonatal ICU (intensive care for babies). By God’s grace, that dream became a reality and I now spend 40+ hours a week caring for the sickest babies in one of Illinois’ largest NICUs.

I always thought babies would be my sole passion, but in recent years I’ve encountered various health concerns and questions which have led me to personally understand that wholesome and comprehensive women’s healthcare is sorely lacking in today’s health industry. From these personal experiences, a passion for women’s health was born.

So now, I have two passions. And I’ve learned that the more I’ve gotten to know one, the more I’ve discovered and grown in zeal for the other.

I say this because I believe it is important to recognize first and foremost that one can love both. I can wholly advocate for women—their inherent beauty, purpose, equality, and health—and all the while, wholly advocate for babies—their beauty, purpose, equality, and health.

Let me share with you both passions. First, womanhood and women’s health.

I am a young woman. And women of the March, you are right… we are powerful. We have a God-given power that could change the world. A favorite quote of mine by Peter Kreeft perfectly sums up the beauty and power of woman…

”The heart is like a woman, and the head is like a man, and although man is the head of woman, woman is the heart of man and she turns man’s head because she turns his heart.”

Without diving too deeply into the rich doctrine that is the Theology of the Body, it is necessary to start with an understanding of who woman is. Women, we are the heart! We are the heart of this world, with the ability to turn its head. Women, we were not created to be trampled on or used. We are not secondary or lesser to our male counterparts. We were created with feminine qualities including gentleness, warmth, sensitivity, compassion, and receptivity. Yes, we’re intelligent, capable, and driven. We are strong and brave (shout out to Leah Darrow). We are not a slave to our fellow man, but rather a fundamental, necessary, and worthy companion. The gifts and talents that we have to offer are good, holy and beautiful. We are nurturing, loving, protective, loyal, self-giving, and communicative by nature. These qualities are of great service to our world. They are valuable in the workplace, just as they are essential to the family. It is by harnessing these very qualities that we will be be most impactful in the world whether as business women, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, doctors and/or nurses, but of utmost importance as mothers.

All of these qualities reflect an inherent call to motherhood. This is true even of single women, women unable to conceive, and religious women. Our feminine qualities—or “feminine genius” as St. John Paul II called it—inherently call us to some form of motherhood whether physical or spiritual.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that this motherhood thing really seems to trip women up.

The founders of the two largest abortion providers, Margaret Sanger of Planned Parenthood and Dr. Marie Stopes of Marie Stopes International believed motherhood to be the ultimate evil. They saw motherhood as an interference, an obstacle to women’s fulfillment, achievement, and success. Sanger and Stopes have successfully spread this lie through the work of their clinics and masterfully intertwined it into the hearts of women.

It has been the very source of our demise.

Sanger and Stopes were wrong. Motherhood, or more specifically, the qualities closely linked to it when built upon and used effectively, will not be a distraction but rather lead to our (woman’s) greatest fulfillment. Women are by no means weak. Women are fiercely loyal, passionate and committed. We are strong communicators, intuitive, sensitive and receptive to the needs of others. These qualities are not a matter of opinion but of science.

According to “The Female Brain”, our brains are scientifically proven to be built differently than men’s to allow for these strengths. We, as women, need to reign in these qualities—these blessings. We need to embrace them and master them.

It’s only then that we will recognize and reach true equality with men.

Women today feel like men are ‘beating’ them in the game of life. Why are we so keen on ‘beating them (men) at their own game’? It was never intended to be a competition in the first place. Women, we are not going to ‘win’ anything with the strategy currently in play. Instead, we are killing the heart of the world. We are the very heart, which has the power to turn the head. We are strangling the heart, and thereby killing ourselves and the rest of the world by fighting to ‘be’ someone else.

It is unfortunate that this lie about womanhood, femininity, and motherhood has pervaded our culture so deeply. As I mentioned above, the lie was and continues to be spread largely by ‘women’s health clinics’ founded on the principles of Sanger and Stopes. Their lies which include the supposed good of contraception and abortion have and continue to hurt us women. In fact, in and of themselves they have limited our access to comprehensive health, instead of offering it (the commonly held belief which is a whole other spiel for another time).

Both lies—contraception and abortion—are the greatest threat to life that our world has ever seen.

So, as I am sure you have already gathered, I am a woman against abortion. That does not make me a woman against women. Women, I am not saying that you do not matter. I am not saying that your future does not matter. I am not saying that the situation that you find yourself in is not unexpected, scary, stressful, painful, difficult, or a million other possibilities.

But the simple, undeniable, scientific fact that must first be recognized is that the fetus that grows inside of you is a baby—a living human being.

At eight weeks old, your baby’s heart started beating. Someone has to fight for that beating human heart. You are a woman. You are strong, fierce, loving, and brave. You are a mom.

FOR YOUR BABY—be stronger, fiercer, braver, and more loving than you’ve ever been.

Your heart beats for your baby, your lungs breath for her, but she moves inside of you on her own. She hiccups, sleeps, flips, drinks, pees and poops. She is her own body, her own person. She is a soul. True, you bear a great responsibility now. If you can choose for your body, who is going to ‘choose’ for her body, your precious baby’s body?

It’s an honor, women, to be a mother. Yes, maybe a difficult and scary one, but carrying this child is one of the only things that you can do which men cannot. Let us celebrate this, not stifle it!

I spend 40 blessed, albeit difficult hours a week caring for sick, suffering, and sometimes dying babies. Some of these babies were born as early as 22 weeks gestation—meaning mom was only 5.5 months pregnant when she delivered this tiny, precious child. This baby’s heart beats, and lungs’ breathe. Her brain continues to grow and develop at a rapid pace and is very easily impacted by all we do to her and inflict upon her. She moves, reacts to touch, and experiences pain. She recognizes mom’s voice and smell. She does best skin to skin on mom’s chest. There, her temperature and vitals stabilize. This baby does not simply live, but—let me tell you—she fights. She fights hard for her life…and I fight for it too.

I take abortion seriously, but I also take it personally. Not only because it takes an innocent life, and as humans we should all defend life, but also because frankly, I find it to be an insult to my life’s work and the tireless dedication shown by my fellow nurses and neonatologists. Doctors spend countless hours and an outpouring of knowledge specializing in this field. News flash: the patients of fetal specialists are fetuses. How have we let these lies about women and babies lead to a complete denial of an entire realm of medicine which is still at it’s height, the forefront of its knowledge, development, and progress?

I do not make a habit of swearing, as I think it’s unbecoming of women, but I’ll be damned if you tell me that the small, sick, and suffering babies that I care for on a daily basis are not worth saving, loving, fighting, and suffering for. I’ll be damned if you tell me that before exiting the miraculous home that is her mother’s womb, that she is not a living, breathing, human being.

Babies are strong, so I implore you to be strong for them!

The contradiction and lies have to stop. Babies are babies are babies. Life is life is life. And yes, women of the March… women are women, but please, I beg of you, your right to ‘be a woman’, ‘to have a body’, cannot trump the rights of defenseless babies from being recognized as human beings. Otherwise, you’re a walking contradiction and you’ll only continue to strangle yourself and your greatest potential by buying into these unfortunate lies. Until we get rid of that which is hurting us, we will continue to make no progress.

Embrace that which makes you, you, you woman of God!

– Written by Emily Knorr, a NICU nurse in Chicago, Illinois.