Cardinal Statement – Senate Bill 25

IStatement of Cardinal Cupich on the Passage of Senate Bill 25

The passage of Senate Bill 25, eliminating even the minimal limitations on abortions under previous law marks a sad moment in our history as a State. We have worked to make the case for a consistent approach to human dignity in Illinois and will continue to do so even as elected officials single out unborn persons for particular disregard. It remains our hope that Illinois will eventually distinguish itself as a safe place that welcomes not only those seeking a new life or second chance, but also the most vulnerable among us who deserve a chance at life.

We are resolved to let women and families in the Chicago area know they have alternatives to abortion. We will continue to provide help during their pregnancies and throughout their journey as parents. Our ministry in Cook and Lake Counties has taught us that when teenagers in underserved communities experience an unplanned pregnancy without proper support, the consequences for the health and well-being of mother and child can be grim.

But, we have also seen that a brighter outcome is possible when support is provided. Catholic Charities and its partners serve hundreds of young women and developing families every year. They nurture the mother and therefore the baby by providing classes in health and child development. They encourage the new families toward independence by providing childcare and making referrals for education, housing and employment.

As a young woman served by a Catholic agency said, “It was like a second family when I came here. My Doula took me to doctors’ appointments, explaining what all the papers and procedures meant, how my baby was developing, the changes my body was going through and how to eat and exercise to stay healthy.”

Today, her son is thriving in the organization’s early childhood program and its family support program helps her stay on track with personal goals. She will begin a bachelor’s degree program this summer. With loving encouragement, she has turned stressful circumstances into a positive, hopeful future for herself and her son.

Women have a real choice when they are given the support they need to bring their children into the world and parent them, supported by a society that truly values them. We will give that support to all who seek it in the hope that by offering them a choice, we will build stronger families and a better Illinois.

During the past week, we have watched supporters of the misnamed “Reproductive Health Act” propel the legislation into the end-of-session rush. The introduced version of the bill dramatically rewrites current abortion law, going further than Roe v. Wade in stripping human rights and dignity from the unborn child with this single statement: “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.” The fundamental premise of the bill is flawed, and no amendment or tweak to the language will change the fact that it is designed to rob the vulnerable life in the womb of any trace of human dignity and value.

On Memorial Day, there will be five days left in the legislative session set to end on May 31.  Major issues that will require bi-partisan cooperation and unity among law makers remain, such as passing a balanced budget for the health, education and safety of Illinois residents and crafting a statewide construction plan with unresolved funding. Conversations on these matters need to take place in an atmosphere of comity and civility and any talk of abortion will only sow more divisiveness and disharmony in today’s polarized political climate.

We ask that lawmakers set aside consideration of the “Reproductive Health Act,” especially since no final form of the bill has been published, vetted through hearings or fully discussed.

Proponents of the bill cite as a need for action the the potential uncertainty surrounding Roe v. Wade. Yet, if the landmark case were overturned today, abortion unfortunately would still be legal in Illinois. House Bill 40 not only authorized taxpayer-funding of abortion, but also removed so-called “trigger language” that would have reverted the state to its pre-Roe policy of allowing an abortion only to save the mother’s life.

We urge all legislators to consider the common good of the state in these final days of the session and refrain from interjecting chaos into their deliberations by considering the morally- and emotionally-divisive and politically-charged “Reproductive Health Act.”#