By Nancy Thorner –
A Pro-Life Legislative Forum, sponsored by Right to Life Lake County and Right to Life McHenry County, was held on Saturday morning, April 30th, 2016, at Marytown, Libertyville, IL. Hosting the event was Bonnie Quirke, Lake County Pro-Life Chair. A free breakfast was served preceding the speakers. Updates on legislative pro-life bills were presented by state representatives representing Lake and McHenry Counties. They included State Representative Barbara Wheeler, District 64; State Representative Sheir Jesiel, District 61; and newly appointed State Senator Dan McConchie, District 26.
Mike Danford speaks about upcoming Peoria Republican State Convention
As the issue of selecting state delegates to attend the Republican Convention this summer in Cleveland, Ohio is front and center in the news, Mike Danford, First Vice Chair of the Lake County Republican Party, was on hand to speak. A state convention is held every four years. The 2012 Illinois Republican Party Platform, as approved on June 9, 2012 at the Illinois Republican State Convention in Tinley Park, Illinois, has in it “Embrace of The Traditional Family” and “Embracing The First Freedom: The Right to Life” platform planks.
As a pro-lifer, Mr. Danford described the pro-life philosophy as one based on truth. An invitation was extended to pro-lifers in attendance to be in Peoria, Illinois on May 19 -21 to become delegates. At that time the 17-member Platform Committee will meet and decide upon the conduct of the Republican Party.
Said Danford, “There are those who want to eliminate the pro-life and pro-marriage planks from the Illinois Republican Platform. Pat Brady is one of them.”
If enough votes are garnered to bring about a minority report, and if that report is voted upon and passed, a portion of the Republican Platform could be destroyed. The result would be an IL Republican Platform similar to the one at the national one. This would not be acceptable. The pro-marriage and pro-life planks must remain in the IL Republican Platform. If you can’t attend all three days, Saturday is the most important day, as this is day voting takes place. As Danford reminded attendees, “You are the hands and feet of the party, be active or be trampled over.”
Equal Rights Amendment update
An update was given on the Equal Rights Amendment (EPA) by Elise Bouc, STOP ERA Chairman in Illinois. In speaking about the Equal Right Amendment (EPA), Elise Bouc noted that despite the defeat of the Amendment in 1977, it still remains an issue today. Just what does equal rights mean in the Equal Rights Amendment? See here an article by Elise Bouc published at Illinois Review in November of 2014. If enacted, in light of this poor wording of the amendment, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex“ , no decision made could be based on gender, thus making it impossible to defend traditional marriage. State EPA’s have been used in courts to overturn restrictions on abortion and to mandate public funding for abortions.
After the formulation of the “three-state strategy” for ERA ratification in 1995, ERA bills have been introduced in one or more legislative sessions in nine of the unratified states (Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Virginia). With only three more states needed to ratify and then retroactively pass ERA in Congress, Illinois has been the focus of EPA since 2003. The Illinois House, but not the Senate, passed an ERA ratification bill in 2003. In 2011, 2012, and 2014. An attempt was made this year to pass ERA in the Illinois Senate, but it failed on Tuesday, April 29, when at the last moment the sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment decided not to bring it up in Senate committee hearings. But EPA is not dead in Illinois. Forces will be gathered to pass the bill in the future. This must not be allowed to happen. It is urgent that Illinois State Senators be called and told not to approve ERA if and when they might have another occasion to do so in the near future.
Following Elise Bouc’s presentation, Eddie M. Corrigan, Legislative Correspondent and Staff Assistant to Rep. Peter Roskam’s District 6 office, Washington, D.C., Rayburn House Office Building (1-202-225-4561), spoke on behalf of Rep. Roskam. Corrigan noted that Rep. Roskam, as a member of the pro-life conference, has helped push the pro-life movement. According to Corrigan, “History is on our side.” The Republican Caucus, under the pro-life leadership of Jim Durkin, is 100% unwavering pro-life with 47 members in the House and 20 in the Senate. There are pro-life Democrats, but not enough to pass pro-life legislation.
Pro-life Elected Legislators Speak: Wheeler, Jessel, and McConchie
Rep. Barbara Wheeler, District 64, is in her second term and 3rd session. Having never before conducted a pro-life legislative forum to explain about the bills being put forward relative to pro-life and anti-pro-life groups, she found Bonnie Quirk receptive to holding such an event. For as Wheeler explained, “Legislators can only do what they are able to do. The rest is up to concerned citizen constituents.” As to lobbyists, they are not all being equal. Some lobbyists help pro-life legislators get their bill filed. Wheeler spoke about pro-life legislation filed so far in 2016. Rep. Wheeler filed four out of the seven bills. A description of the bills will follow later on in the article.
Rep. Sherry Jessel, District 61, ran for office to fight for life. Her district extends up to the Wisconsin border. When elected Jessel was advised to focus on fiscal issues. Although very important to Jessel, she views the pro-life issue as the building block of our culture. Ms. Jessel further noted the difficulty of being pro-life in today’s society, of being true to who you are and what you believe. Rep. Jessel filed one of the seven pro-life bills filed in the House so far in 2016, HB 6078 – “Abortion Clinic Regulation (Health and Safety)” bill. Jessel explained how the process for a bill begins when sent to the Rules Committee. From Rules a bill is assigned to a specific committee for review. As both committees are dominated by members of the Democrat Party, it’s difficult for a pro-life bill to pass Democrat scrutiny to be heard on the House floor. If by chance a pro-life bill should pass in the House, it would move on to Senate, where it would be even less likely to pass, before moving on to the governor to be signed into law.
Senator Dan McConchie was sworn-in on April 20, 2016 to represent the 26th District of Illinois by Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes, accompanied by his wife and two daughters. McConchie won a heavily-contested three-way primary last month. McConchie month. McConchie has spent his career working in nonprofits as an advocate for the weak and vulnerable both at the beginning and end of life. As a national expert on state legislation, he is committed to bringing his experience in legislative strategy, marketing, coalition building and grassroots advocacy to furthering Governor Rauner’s pro-growth agenda in Springfield.
Senator McConchie related what his first day as senator was like when driving down to Springfield the day after he was sworn in to join fellow reform-minded legislators actively working to return power back to the people and get our state on the right track again. As the bills were announced rapid fire one after another for voting in the Senate Chamber, McConchie, not being familiar with the background of some of the bill, watched how others he trusted were voting. One time McConchie’s plan of action backfired, when in voting “yes”, McConchie didn’t realize that those voting Yes had all changed their vote to “NO”! In the near future Senator McConchie will be opening a district office in Lake Zurich. McConchie noted how the process to pass a bill in the Senate is similar to the process described by Rep.Jossel in the House.
House-sponsored pro-life bills in 2016 (Go to www.ilga.gov to follow the bills)
Listed below are the seven pro-life Illinois General Assembly Legislative bills sponsored so far in 2016. Most didn’t make it out of the Rules Committee. Only two of the seven listed did – HB 5022 and HB 58917. Both bills were introduced by Rep. Barb Wheeler, where they died when put into a bad House committee and then subcommitted by the chairman.
- HB 4392 (Pritchard-Reis) Create4s Choose Life Fund to allow Choose Life decals on plates.
- HB 4421 (Rep. Wheeler) – Ultrasound Opportunity Act.
- HB 5686 (Rep. Wheeler) – Prohibits any uses from aborted fetal tissue.
- HB 5817 (Rep. Wheeler) – Requires Public Health to report 5 or more deaths or complications from abortions [currently, will only report if over 50 from abortions].
- HB 4421 (Bryant) – 20 week abortion ban.
- HB 6078 (Rep. Jesiel) – Abortion Clinic Regulation (Health and Safety) bill.
- HB 6566 (Rep. Wheeler) – Bans abortions for sex selection and birth defects.
Four pro-abortion bills that are now before the Illinois House requiring action
A Pro-Life action alert was issued for these four pro-abortion bills that are now before the Illinois House. Your action is needed. Call your state representative to vote “no” on all four!
- HB 887 (Williams) – Amends the Illinois Insurance Code. Makes a technical change in a section concerning the insurability of newborns. This bill is coming over to the Senate!
- SB 1564 (Biss, Gabel) – under this bill, crisis pregnancy centers,pro-life physicians and hospitals will be forced to participate in abortions against their consciences. Provides a list of places where a woman could reasonably be able to receive an abortion.
- HB 4013 (Feigenholtz) -Removes all prohibitions on using taxpayer funding for all abortions throughout the full nine months of pregnancy under Medicaid and more.
- HB 5576 (Nekriz) – Contraceptives paid by insurance bill.
Emphasized was that pro-life legislation must continue to be put forward in the House, even though the current make-up of the General Assembly isn’t favorable to having the bills passed. The conscience of voters can be pricked by talking about an issue, which helps in adding pro-life legislators to the Illinois Senate and House. 10 more pro-life members are needed in the Senate and 13 in the House to obtain a majority. While it is often stated that Illinois is a blue state, it is really a purple state. Pointed out is that there is only a 4.6% difference in the way citizens vote in state legislator races between Democrats and Republicans.
House Witness slips a way for public to make a difference
Educating the public is important. Signing witness slips is one way the public can make a difference in bills put forward in the House. Launched by the House in March of 2012 as a new venue for citizens to participate in the legislative process by filing witness slips online, and reported at the time by Illinois Review, the House allows citizens over age 13 to file witness slips online which provides a way for virtual participation in the House proceedings. The online witness slip entree can be found at http://witnessslips.ilga.gov. Select the committee where a particular bill is assigned, find the bill on the committee’s schedule, then fill out and submit the form provided for the particular bill online.
In addition to calling your state representative and senator, don’t neglect Governor Bruce Rauner. Personal letters rate high. Governor Rauner needs to be informed to stand firmly with the Republican caucus in the Illinois General Assembly. To write: Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706 and Office of the Governor, James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, IL 60601.
Pro-life candidates introduced:
Judy Martini (R – Fox Lake, District 5) received the Republican primary nod and will face Democrat Gloria Charland in the race for Lake County Board District 5. They are seeking to replace longtime Lake County Board member Bonnie Thomson Carter, a Republican who is not seeking re-election.
Having run unopposed in the primary, Michael Amrozowicz is the 2016 Republican candidate for District 31 of the Illinois State Senate. Illinois’ thirty-first state senate district is presently represented by Democratic Senator Melinda Bush. As a Navy man Amrozowicz is used to fixing things, describing himself as a “conservative who serves Christ.”
Special guests introduced:
- The Honorable Thomas M.Schippers, Circuit Judge, Lake County
- Larry Falbe, President of the Lake County Republican Federation
- Representative from Bob Dold’s office (District 10)
- Representative from Randy Hultgrin’s office (District 14)
- Rep. Peter Breen (48th – R), a constitutional attorney specializing in defense of free speech and religious liberty rights, was cited by State Representative Barb Wheeler as a great warrior of the House for his ability to explain the nature of bills.