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.

 

Today’s The Feast Day Of St. Maximillian Kolbe. Here’s What He Can Teach Us About Neo-Nazis And Antifa.

Chris Stefanick posted a moving video this morning of himself standing in Auschwitz, telling the story of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, whose feast day is today.

His memory stands in stark contrast to the violence we saw in Virginia over the weekend, perpetrated by two groups of extremists that have made hateful rhetoric and actions central to the means by which they carry out their missions.

You can watch the video here.

From the moment Virginia declared a state of emergency on Saturday, the steady stream of Facebook posts, tweets, and general commentary from everyone from politicians to personal friends has been almost overwhelming. It seems everyone has an opinion on who bears the greatest responsibility, and that’s entirely fair—when a life is lost the way one was on Saturday, a national conversation surrounding what could’ve prevented it seems to be the only appropriate response.

All of that being said, I’ve seen hardly any mention of God or faith in any of these opinions. Of course we should condemn racism. Of course we should condemn violence. But what is at the root, here? Why is it that we’re suddenly reacting so angrily—and violently—to differing viewpoints?

Most would tell you it’s Trump, but it’s not. I’ll never forget the last-minute road trip I made with two friends down to Louisiana for the 2014 senatorial runoff election—we listened to tail end reports of Ferguson unrest for much of the way down. This was long before the Trump phenomenon, yet we’ve placed the blame for this sudden civil discourse entirely on his shoulders.

Has he contributed? I’m not sure. But here’s what I can say with surety:

I’ll never be convinced that violent, hateful unrest like what we saw on Saturday is anything other than the product of a lack of God in our society. A lack of peace out in the world is a reflection of a lack of peace in the hearts of those involved. When we meet aggression with aggression and violence with violence, we exhibit a lack of faith in Christ and a separation from the suffering and persecution He endured during His time on earth. The peace required to face such aggression with humility, courage, and love for other human beings can only be acquired through a genuine encounter with the Lord in our hearts. If we do not have that peace within, we cannot exhibit it out in the world.

Maximillian Kolbe is such a moving, remarkable example of this peace. Stefanick explains in his video above that during his time in Auschwitz, St. Maximillian volunteered to take the place of a husband and father who’d been sent away to starve to death in a dark, locked room. This faithful, humble Catholic priest had such peace in his heart that he met the aggression of the Nazis with the ultimate sacrifice—the offering of his life. And Stefanick adds that the Nazi Commander trembled in his presence.

St. Maximillian lived in that room, starving, for twelve days. The Nazis finally ended his starvation with a lethal injection that took his life. And other camp members who knew him and what he’d done responded to his martyrdom by singing hymns throughout the camp.

This is a man who knew peace in his heart. This is a man who knew the love of Christ.

We cannot and will not deliver our country from this violence without this same sense of peace and this same faith in God’s love. On this feast day of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, let us remember that.

The Monika Lewinsky Effect: Questioning Our Approach To Kathy Griffin’s Controversial Image

The morning that Kathy Griffin released the photo of herself holding a bloody mask of President Trump, I was watching Monika Lewinsky’s 1999 interview with Barbara Walters (I literally cannot even remember how this happened—I fell down a very deep Youtube hole, idk). One of links that Youtube recommended when the 80-minute interview was over was Lewinsky’s much-more-recent TED talk on cyberbullying, and the role her story played in how we use the internet today (she refers to herself as “Patient Zero” of the internet crucifixion culture we’ve grown accustomed to since then).

So as I’ve observed coverage of Griffin play out, and as I watched her apology video, and then her press conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about Monika Lewinsky. Lol. I know, maybe bizarre.

But there is something to this.

Kathy Griffin took her situation to the next level last week when she cried at the podium of a nationally televised press conference over the consequences of her own poor decision-making skills.

A lot was said that wasn’t true, much of it by her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, who’s a famous (infamous?) civil rights lawyer, most recently known for her public take-down of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

But there was also a lot said that did have truth to it—claims to Griffin’s right to free speech, for starters. And what I’m about to say will inevitably be an unpopular opinion, but hear me out: as Americans, we should not pride ourselves on our freedom of speech if we do not also enact it.

Here’s what I mean:

A number of conservative speakers have been forcefully denied access to college campuses because of pushback by the universities, kicking and screaming (and in some instances, more serious violence) by protestors, and a general blowback on the internet for their message and ideas.

And the conservative side of the aisle is (rightfully) critical of this. They say liberal university administrators and lefty activists are stifling people who have a right by the First Amendment to say whatever it is they want to say when they’re invited to speak at these campuses. Conservatives say that denying them that right is an attack on the American values we hold so dear.

I’m willing to make the argument that Kathy Griffin could and should be lumped in with the Ann Coulters, Ben Shapiros, and Ryan T. Andersons of this narrative.

Griffin is the most recent subject of this trend in our country that’s stamping out the First Amendment. True to her grotesque sense of humor, Griffin created an image that offended the vast majority of people who saw it. It’s clear some people were not offended, however, because just as she took the image down, it had already garnered thousands of retweets and shares on social media (everyone knows a retweet presented without comment is totally an endorsement, come on). Now I, in absolutely no way, support or agree with the image she made—nevertheless, her right to make it is protected under the First Amendment. By way of the law, she did nothing wrong.

That didn’t stop social media users, and politicians, and journalists, and the Trump family… from calling for her to be fired from her job, dropped from her contracts, and boycotted pretty much across the board. And I suppose that just as Griffin owns a right to free speech, so do all of the people I listed above. They’re free to pressure CNN to do that. But just the same—is it right?

I don’t agree with Kathy Griffin, nor do I especially like her… but does that make it right to assault her via the internet the way so many of us did? Here’s where I think of Monika Lewinsky, who’s been the butt of jokes on the internet before the word “meme” was even in the dictionary. There is so much power in the small gesture of a keystroke. We wield so much opportunity when we post online—and those people who have a following beyond their own circle of family and friends have an even greater responsibility.

It’s time to take responsibility, and for all of it. Griffin should have been more responsible with the broad audience that she has access to. But does her wrong justify our right to annihilate her for it?

I think that’s something for us to think about.

An Open Letter To Tomi Lahren: Stop Making Me Look Bad

Tomi –

You and I have a lot in common. We’re both conservative, both women, both 24, and both passionate about politics and current events. We’re also both markedly opinionated and outspoken about our beliefs. Good for us!

I’ve kept an eye on you as your career has escalated because I admire you for many reasons. You’re especially bold in your ‘Final Thoughts’, which takes a notable amount of courage and gumption—God knows you get a lot of hate on social media, so I respect your thick skin and perseverance. You’re also incredibly well-spoken, which I’ve found is not the norm amongst conservative women our age, so I’m grateful for that—you’re clearly intelligent, and I love it. I’m always happy to see fellow smart girls find success.

Recently, though, I’ve got a bone to pick with you. It’s been my experience during my short time in the work world that older, more experienced professionals are hesitant to trust girls like you and me. It’s not that we’re bad at what we do, or that we’re not smart, or capable—they’re simply hesitant to take us seriously.

I used to work in a job where my boss made me feel valued for what I did. He complimented my hard work, my willingness to go the extra mile, and my patience with difficult coworkers—but he also winked at me every time he passed my desk, and responded to my request for more responsibilities within my role with, “well, you’re very young.”

Do you see what I’m getting at here? It’s a fight for girls like us to be taken seriously in the work world. We’re expected to prove ourselves before we’re given a chance, meanwhile men our age and with comparable experience are often given those chances first. I’ve got to be reliable. I’ve got to be mature, trustworthy, sincere, serious, and I’ve got to be very, very careful.

Tomi, you have not been careful.

You’ve been loose with your words, reckless with your actions, and you’ve mishandled your conflict with The Blaze in a very public way. I’m happy for you that it’s over. I’m sure it was stressful. I’m sure you’re relieved to have your Facebook page back, which was rightfully yours to begin with. Those are very good things.

But yesterday, you did an interview with Playboy, and quite frankly, I’ve had enough. First of all—Playboy? Really, Tomi? You’re a strong, outspoken, opinionated woman, and you lent your voice to the single publication most infamous for objectifying women? Be serious.

And second, I don’t care how you feel about abortion. I really don’t. I’m pro-life, but I don’t care whether you agree with me or not. What I do care about, however, is how frivolous you’ve looked as you’ve flip-flopped from one stance to the other. I get being unsure how you feel about an issue, but here’s my advice: if you’re unsure, don’t comment. It is really, REALLY that simple.

I sympathize with the struggle you’ve had these past few weeks. Truly, I get it. But for the sake of your fellow 24-year-old smart girls, get serious.

And stop making us look bad.

The Quiet Confidence Of Ivanka Trump

I’m continuously impressed with Ivanka Trump and how well she carries herself, even when met with the most humiliating and hostile sentiments of those around her.

This photo was taken today at a women’s summit in Germany, where she was booed and “hissed” at (do women seriously hiss at other women? that’s grotesque) for referring to her father as a “champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

The moderator of the panel acknowledged the hostility of the crowd and confronted Ivanka, saying, “You hear the reaction from the audience. I need to address one more point—some attitudes toward women your father has displayed might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empower-er for women.”

And once more, we witness her incredibly poised demeanor in the well-spoken and gracious response she gave (per POLITICO):

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level,” Ivanka Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do; he provided that for us.” She said that her father treated her exactly the same way he treated her two brothers, who now run the family business. “There was no difference,” she said.

Her tone was not defensive, nor did she so much as grimace at the question she received. There’s a level of self-awareness and restraint here that we fail to give her credit for.

It’s very easy for us, as both consumers of the mainstream media and American voters, to forget that these people are just that—they’re people.

When we think of Donald Trump and his relationship with women at this point in history, our minds jump immediately to the recording released prior to the election of his conversation with Billy Bush. The things that were said were shameful, wrong, and have no place in American society, let alone American politics. It is appropriate to acknowledge that and to hold him accountable for what he said.

Nevertheless, as a daughter myself, I observe Ivanka’s willingness to stand by her father with admiration. She has not defended his behavior, which would be wrong—rather, she’s chosen to remain loyal despite his character, however deeply flawed it might prove to be.

I fight the urge to compare her to Chelsea Clinton as a public figure because I think my bias in comparing them would be obvious. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the media approaches the two women from very different angles. While some outlets continue to, for all intents and purposes, plead Chelsea Clinton into a campaign announcement, Ivanka’s media coverage from those same outlets is critical, negative, and maintains, however subtlety, that she should be personally held responsible for her father’s splintered relationship with the female gender because she, herself, is female.

This is a difficult position to place a man’s daughter in. I struggle to recall a time that Chelsea Clinton has ever been asked to defend her own father’s promiscuity, and the one time I can recall was met with such aggressive criticism by the mainstream media that no one ever dared ask such a question again. And while she is placed on a pedestal, Ivanka is “hissed” at by her fellow woman, even as she speaks of promoting women and families at a public forum.

I was especially impressed with Ivanka in her interview with Gayle King earlier this month. King asked Ivanka if she had a response to critics who accused her of being “complicit.” Her response was commendable (via CBS):

“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard. In some case it’s through protest and it’s through going on the nightly news and talking about or denouncing every issue in which you disagree with. Other times it is quietly, and directly, and candidly. So where I disagree with my father, he knows it, and I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda and, and hope, uh, that I can be an asset to him and make a positive impact. But I respect the fact that he always listens. It’s how he was in business. It’s how he is as president.”

And in this one statement alone, we witness the quiet confidence of Ivanka Trump. She feels no need to justify herself to the public, and there’s something to be said for that level of self-assurance. It is clear she does not receive validation from the American people, which is important: it means her commitment to her values is not contingent on the approval of others. This is remarkable.

I fear that women are missing out on an incredible role model by so quickly jumping to criticize Ivanka. Many could say—and probably do say—that her loyalty to the President is self-serving, or necessary for her own professional success. I see it differently.

Ivanka has earned what she’s built. While I recognize the opportunities that inevitably come hand-in-hand with having the name ‘Trump’ on your birth certificate, she’s not been given all that she has. She is educated, professional, and successful by her own right. And yet, she has chosen to leave her empire behind (in some sense) to serve her father and the public in the White House.

How many celebrities are estranged from their famous family members? How many women wrestle with their self-worth (or lack thereof)? And how many experience behavioral crises at the hand of their damaging fathers?

It is clear Ivanka Trump is not one of those women. So why are we so quick to condemn her?