Next Steps in Illinois Pro-Life Fight Outlined
By Observer Staff
June 20, 2019
ROCKFORD—Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law an abortion bill that Illinois’ Catholic bishops said eliminates “even minimal limitations on abortions under previous law” and whose passage by the legislature marked “a sad moment in our history as a state.”
 
Pritzker signed the legislation June 12 in a ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center. His action “drew enthusiastic whoops and cheers from the crowd,” The Washington Times reported.
 
As the abortion bill made its way through the Illinois House and Senate, the state’s Catholic bishops called it the “misnamed ‘Reproductive Health Act.’ ”
 
Catholic Conference of Illinois, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, labeled it “an extreme measure” because it allows “for the abortion of unborn life at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason.” 
 
Bishop David Malloy also issued a statement in which he said, “This legislation strips the unborn of any protection or rights under the law, and demonstrates a grievous disregard for the care and human solidarity we owe to the most vulnerable among us.” (See his column in the June 14 edition of The Observer.)
 
The conference said lawmakers’ passage of the legislation was “a grave tragedy and a collective moral failing.”
 
“It is vital that we do not become discouraged, even in the face of such darkness,” said Jennifer Collins, director of the Life and Family Evangelization Office for the Rockford Diocese. 
 
Collins refered to what Pope St. John Paul II called the “dramatic struggle between the ‘culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death.’ ” 
 
“We recognize that we find ourselves in the midst of such a struggle,” she said in a letter. “This body of legislators that passed this legislation remains in office. We anticipate that we will be called upon again in the near future to advocate for our vulnerable brothers and sisters and in defense of life ... .”
 
She suggested “three advocacy networks we encourage everyone to join, to ensure that you receive alerts as quickly as possible when the need for action arises.”
 
They are:
 
– Life and Dignity Network of the LiFE Office of the Rockford Diocese (https://www.rockforddiocese.org/life/);
 
n Illinois Catholic Advocacy Network (I-CAN) of the Catholic Conference of Illinois (https://www.ilcatholic.org/take-action/join-i-can/); and
 
n Action Center of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/home).
 
“Additionally,” she continued, “please pray for our elected officials, that they will have the wisdom to recognize the inherent dignity of each and every person — born and unborn — and that they will have the courage to carry out their responsibility to enact laws that protect life.”
 
She made further suggestions to help build a “culture of life” by reading the “Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities: A Campaign in Support of Life” (http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/pastoral-plan-prolife-activities.cfm). 
 
It asks people of the Church  to act in four areas:
 
– Public Information and Education to deepen understanding of the sanctity of human life and the humanity of unborn children, the moral evil of intentionally killing innocent human beings — whether at the beginning of life or at its end — and the mission of the Church to witness to and serve all human life.
 
– Pastoral Care for women with problems related to pregnancy; for all who have been involved in abortion; for those who are disabled, sick, and dying, and their families and caregivers; for those who have lost loved ones to violent crime; and for those in prison sentenced to death.
 
– Public Policy efforts directed to restoring legal protection to the lives of unborn children and those vulnerable to pressures to end their lives by assisted suicide, and to providing morally acceptable alternatives to abortion and assisted suicide.
 
– Prayer and Worship directed to participation in the sacramental life of the Church and in programs of communal and individual prayer, that the culture of death that surrounds us today will be replaced by a culture of life and love.
 
— Catholic News Service contributed to this story