Respect for Life Must Be Reclaimed
By Bishop David J. Malloy
‘What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!’ 
— Gen 4:10
These are the words of God to Cain recorded in the Book of Genesis after he took his brother’s life. 
As we follow the recent deliberation and vote about the terribly named Reproductive Health Act (RHA) now passed by the Illinois House and Senate, as citizens of Illinois we might ask ourselves the very same question.
The bill, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker has promised to sign, has lethal consequences for the weakest and most vulnerable among us, our preborn brothers and sisters. They, who have no voice to cry out, have been deemed expendable under virtually any circumstance.
And the rights of conscience have been trampled as well. 
This expansion of abortion in Illinois forces those of us who value the gift of human life to be cooperators in the destruction of that gift. 
Supporters have tried to sugarcoat this reality by saying that this bill “modernizes Illinois’ reproductive rights laws.” We cannot allow ourselves to be beguiled by deceptive rhetoric.
For example, the RHA states, ”Every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise that right.” 
Astonishingly, the bill goes on to say, “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.” (Section 1-15).
Additionally, the legislation requires that all private insurance policies that include pregnancy related benefits must include coverage for abortion. Once again not only does this increase the threat to the unborn child, but it forces those with objections of conscience to cooperate by mandating their financial contributions to abortion related insurance policies.
Taken together, these clauses remove any state interest or right of action in defending in any way the life of the child in the mother. 
The bill deliberately deflects our attention from any claim to any assistance or even avoidance of pain on the part of the unborn child. 
Even though the vast majority of respondents in polls have opposed such radical legislation, we awakened on the morning of June 1 to the news that in a midnight vote these measures had been approved.
Prior to the passage of this bill, the Catholic Bishops of Illinois urged its defeat saying, “We appreciate the complex and difficult challenges facing women who have unplanned pregnancies or who carry babies destined to have short or difficult lives. They deserve all the support society can give them. 
“But to deny that the lives growing within these women is anything other than human or that they would, in the vast majority of cases, develop into healthy children is simply to deny reality. If we are saying that the unwanted are not worthy of life, we are entering an ethical and moral wasteland where other human beings can be denied their due process, their human dignity and their right to life.”
Our statement follows on a talk given by Pope Francis just a few days earlier in Rome. In that talk he commented, “No human being can ever be unfit for life … .  Abortion is never the answer that women and families are looking for.”
We cannot escape the feeling that the disrespect that society and our laws are affording the gift of life makes this to be a dark time in which we live. 
That rejection of love of the humanity of the unborn is inevitably reflected in a wider disrespect for human life among the poor, the stranger and those who are different or who disagree with us.
We are better than this, as a state and as citizens of Illinois. In response to God’s question, “What have you done?” we need to respond with even greater love and greater effort. 
Respect for all human life must be reclaimed.