Life Conversation at Capitol Continues in Freeport
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
April 25, 2019
FREEPORT—The conversation about legislative bills that would deregulate abortion in extreme ways continued on April 16 as about a dozen people gathered to visit with State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-45) and State Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-89).
Both of these Freeport republicans are on record as prolife, so it might seem unnecessary to meet with them. But Father Timothy Barr, pastor of St. Joseph and St. Mary parishes in Freeport, said he felt it was important for three reasons: 
n to follow up the large prolife gathering in Springfield on March 20 (see The Observer, April 5) and continue to express opposition to the bills, 
n to offer support to the men and their efforts for life, and 
n to make a public statement that Catholics and other constituents support “life, women, children and you, so you can bring the message to your fellow legislators.”
The gathering included two regional coordinators with Silent No More, and Jen Shea began the conversation. The members of Silent No More, she said, “share our personal testimonies” to educate those who are for and against abortion “and to give hope to those still struggling” with the after-effects.
“The cornerstones of abortion are silence, personal shame and deception,” Shea said before sharing her story of a pregnancy at age 19, the lack of information about alternatives, how she was “indirectly lied to by the omission of truth,” and the decades of difficulties and pain that resulted. 
Shea noted that the movie “Unplanned” — about the experiences of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson — is “absolutely accurate” in its depiction of the suction-type of abortion process. 
Father Barr’s experience of the healing needed to help a woman after an abortion, she said, was true also. She herself went to confess her abortion right away, and she repeated that confession several times over some years until a priest challenged her to accept God’s forgiveness.
Retreat helps
“I went to (a) Rachel’s Vineyard (weekend) and experienced another layer of healing,” she said, comparing the process to an onion’s many layers. 
A healing Mass, hearing Abby Johnson speak on television, and other ongoing efforts finally have her realizing that God has forgiven her, “but I’m not sure I will ever forgive myself.”
Now 60 and mother of a 22-year-old son, Shea said, “I would probably be a grandmother by now.”
Abortion, she concluded, “affects generations.”
Nancy Kreuzer then spoke of her second-trimester abortion done in response to her daughter’s diagnosis of water on the brain and Down syndrome. 
A year later, Kreuzer said she had a healthy son — and she curled up in a fetal position whenever he cried. She added that she still gets nauseous when she smells lilacs, which were blooming at the time of her abortion.
“Would I have had an abortion,” she asked, “if ... I’d known my preborn baby had fingernails, eyelashes, could feel pain ... No.
“Abortion is a cruel, traumatic event that forever changes the landscape.”
Abortion enslaves
Kreuzer eventually named her aborted daughter Melanie, she said, “and tried to bury her so deep in my mind” in an attenpt to get past the trauma. 
The abortion, she added, “enslaved my body and soul for decades.” 
Finally, after following God “into dark places,” Kreuzer can proclaim that “I am an adopted daughter of the Most High King ... . All glory be to the true Redeemer of the world.”
Healing has to be a major part of services provided for the women, the men and even for the doctors, Father Barr said. He then mentioned some of the proposed bills’ specifics sharing his knowledge of 13- and 14-year-old girls in the Freeport area who have had abortions. 
After-effects and trauma are present in the lives of “your constituents,” he told Sen. Stewart and Rep. Chesney.
Local aid available
Two of the “Blue Nuns,” Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ,  attended the meeting. 
They have built Madonna House in Freeport to house and support pregnant women. Sister Theonilla Chukwu explained why. 
She said that “women have run to the convent” asking why many people were pushing them and willing to help with an abortion, but treated them “like a criminal” if they wanted to have the baby.
Post-abortive women have told them “I have to live a lie, like my life is okay,” Sister Theonilla explained.
“We want to be there for these women,” she continued. “We have a place to channel them (and) people to support them ... . Women are growing up confused because they are not told the truth.”
The proposed legislation, Sister Theonilla said, shows that “something is wrong with us. 
“We keep praying,” she concluded.
Speaking up works
Both representatives, Sen. Stewart said, “are 1,000% behind you (and) 1,000% prolife. We need your help ... . At the Capitol, (your input) does make a difference.”
Sen. Stewart said that in his seven years in Springfield, “I don’t ever recall (when they) had to close the Capitol for one cause” as it did during the March 20 Capitol rotunda rally. 
Capitol security personnel, for “security reasons,” stopped allowing people to add to the estimated 4,000 people gathered in the rotunda.
“I think it made a difference,” the senator said. “In my opinion, they were poised to call the bills (to vote). They have not been called yet.”
However, he added, “the battle is not over, unfortunately” and noted that bills can be called and voted on at any time.
He and Rep. Chesney both said they believed the Senate and House took notice of the rally and morning lobby effort.
“I’m almost in disbelief,” Rep. Chesney said. “What I heard was ‘Somebody woke up the Silent Majority.’ I think the brakes (on the bills) were the result.” 
He promised to remind other legislators to look at the abortion controversy from “all different angles.”
Sen. Stewart encouraged those gathered to tell others to register online in opposition to the bills if they haven’t already. 
Legislation committees, he said, look at the number of proponents and the number of opponents on bills under consideration.
Call legislators
He also told them to “make personal calls to those who need a call —call those (legislators) who are not supportive (of life). Let their phones ring off the hook.”
They, however, don’t pay attention to robotic calls, Sen. Stewart said. 
“We get thousands of them,” he said. “The personal touch, that’s what sends the message.” 
Just be sure, he added, to include the numbers of the bills in question. 
Rep. Chesney especially encouraged calls to one’s own legislators, saying they want to hear from their own constituents.
“The folks back home matter,” Sen. Stewart agreed.
The men did note that from now until the end of May, the main task in Springfield will be to try and pass a balanced budget. Even so, a quick call to express opposition to the abortion bills can be made and messages left.
“If these (bills) don’t get resurrected,” Sen. Stewart said, “it will be because of you and because of those who went to the Capitol.”
“One last takeaway,” said Rep. Chesney, “is that these (efforts) really do matter ... . We can stop bills (with) activism, phone calls, witness lists, Facebook shares ... .
“All of that has an impact.”