We Can Protect Each Other
By Penny Wiegert
One year ago, our regular routines were upended by the onslaught of the coronavirus. Since then we have all received a steady diet of what is to be done to protect ourselves and every other person on the planet from the spread and ravage of the health complications of the virus.
And here we are, thanks be to God, in yet another phase of the pandemic that offers us hope. We now have three vaccines that can help us protect each other from sickness and possible death.
I was fortunate to get my first dose of the vaccine last weekend. Even though I was a little anxious about possible side effects I knew after reading up on all the guidance from the scientists and our own diocesan ethicist that it was the right thing to do for the common good.  
The whole experience reminded me of the times we lined up in our school cafeteria to get vaccines for polio and tests for tuberculosis.  While I waited in the observation area for 15 minutes after being vaccinated, I said a little prayer of thanks for being part of the protective solution to COVID-19 becoming a thing of the past.
God put us all on this earth to love and serve Him and each other. Since the days of Adam and Eve we humans have been called upon in many ways to help one another.  Doing things to protect each other from this recent pandemic is just one of those calls.
Here in Illinois, we are being called upon to be part of another protective solution especially for our daughters. Citizens across our state are being urged not just by the Catholic Church but by a coalition of parents to implore the Illinois General Assembly to reject HB 1797 and SB 2190, legislation that would repeal the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act. As it stands now, if a minor girl seeks an abortion procedure, her parents must be notified — a law that makes absolute sense since it is a parent’s responsibility to help children make good choices especially ones that affect their future health and well being.  
Think about it. A parent must give consent for their children to be treated for any medical procedure. Consent must be given even for ear piercings and tattoos. Children are also not allowed to procure substances that affect their health like alcohol, marijuana or tobacco. Why? Because science tells us that these substances are especially harmful to those under 18 because they are not yet fully mentally and physically developed as adults.  So why then, as parents, would we want to repeal a law that notifies us when our daughters are attempting to obtain an invasive procedure that will not only interrupt the natural course of her anatomy, potentially permanently wound her physiologically and psychologically but also tragically take the life of another human being? 
And for those of us in the Diocese of Rockford, who live, work and worship around I-90 and I-39, an area local law enforcement tells us is one of the most active corridors for sex trafficking, we should be especially keen on keeping protections like PNA in place as a safeguard for underage girls being victimized for profit. 
Mary Hallan FioRito, an attorney, mother of three teenage girls, and the Cardinal Francis George Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center explained in a recent opinion published in the Chicago Sun Times that “Eliminating the Parental Notice Law strips away critical protections for young girls and enables predatory men. The law is not  just common sense, it is necessary. To repeal it would be a tragic mistake, one leaving Illinois teenagers vulnerable to coercion, abuse, manipulation, physical trauma, and a lack of emotional support at the very time they need it most.” 
So let’s do these two easy things to protect those we are called to love. Get vaccinated and tell your Illinois legislators to keep parental notification. For more information visit https://www.saveparentalnotification.com/
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