Thursday, February 28, 2008

Activists scare people with abortion rhetoric

To some people, the extent to which they are interested in anything happening in Springfield is to know the latest about whether Public Official A (a.k.a., Gov. Rod Blagojevich) is on the verge of being indicted, tried and sent to prison.

The notion of two consecutive Illinois governors winding up their political careers in prison (George Ryan currently receives the benefits of an “Oxford education” – waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his appeal while sitting in a prison cell at the federal facility in Oxford, Wis.) is titillating to those Chicago political observers who want to think that government begins and ends at City Hall.

BUT BELIEVE IT or not, those clowns in “Springpatch” are more than just a batch of youthful politicos in training combined with a few old hacks who don’t have what it takes to hold elective office in Chicago proper. The ladies and gentlemen of the General Assembly will be asked this spring to consider issues ranging from firearm possession to Wrigley Field ownership to abortion.

Yes, abortion.

It is the issue that will never go away, yet in some ways is one of the perennial issues of the Illinois political process. Every year, some measure comes up that gets the activists on both sides of the issue to act their most irrational.

This year, the anti-abortion activists have a head start on the silly season. The Glen Ellyn-based Illinois Family Institute is sending out Internet missives meant to stir up trouble aimed squarely at a bill sponsored this spring by state Reps. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, and Rosemary Mulligan, R-Des Plaines.

THE BILL IN question is meant to ensure that women have access to the medical services that can end a pregnancy. Considering that availability of such services was the intent of the Supreme Court ruling of 1973 that wiped out state laws making abortion a crime, the bill is all too logical.

But to the institute, the measure is “draconian” in that it stands in the way of “conscience for moral reasons” and would go so far as to require sex education courses for Kindergarten children and condom training for 9-year-olds.

Basically, the Currie/Mulligan bill would prevent government from taking any action that would interfere with abortion being available to women who choose it. Such a law is necessary because the General Assembly throughout the years has passed measures designed by anti-abortion activists to make it as difficult as possible for women to actually gain access to abortion.

Some people might see their actions as political bullying of women. But to the institute, any attempt to stop them from stopping people is a “radical and unprecedented departure” from Illinois law.

“CLEARLY, THE ENACTMENT of (the bill) would codify all abortion procedures at any stage of pregnancy,” the institute writes, in a statement recently e-mailed to all of their followers across Illinois and select other political observers (somehow, I managed to get on the group’s e-mail list a few years ago).

When you think about it rationally (which is something that doesn’t often happen when it comes to abortion debate), the Currie/Mulligan bill is not a radical concept.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure (and don’t tell me that it is gross – if you look at it graphically, so is a gall bladder removal, but no one in their right mind would think of criminalizing that) that should not be made unavailable by the actions of political people who want to force their personal moral choice on others.

Admittedly, I favor allowing a woman the right to decide this issue herself. I have a problem with anti-abortion activists trying to impose their views on a woman’s choice, and I find it disgusting that they try to portray their position as moral.

AS I SEE it, they are using the potential of a future human life to try to tell an existing life (that of the mother) what she can do with her body. The idea of telling someone what she can’t do sounds so much like a personal infringement of her rights – the very notion is so anti-Republican, or at least anti- the concept of individual choice that conservatives always claim they stand for.

A particularly appalling part of the institute’s message to activists is the portion that pretends to address the concerns of doctors who do not want to be involved with the termination of a pregnancy.

Now I do not have a problem with a doctor being a bit squeamish about the process. The Currie/Mulligan bill says they should be required to refer women to another doctor, if they themselves do not want to provide the service.

Doctors provide referrals all the time. It is not a radical medical concept.

BUT THE INSTITUTE wants to believe that a doctor is being punished if he is required by law to refer a woman who wants an abortion to another doctor.

“Quite simply, the enactment… would drive anyone having a religious or moral belief against abortion or contraceptives from the Illinois health care community,” the institute writes, in its Internet missive.

Rationally, that might not be bad. Perhaps a doctor, pharmacist or medical technician who wants to impose his view of morals over sound medical practices should think seriously about whether they are in the right line of work, in the same way that a member of the clergy who suddenly had a loss of religious faith should think about doing something else with their lives.

WHAT IS MOST disgusting about the institute’s missive is that it is taking advantage of the ignorance of some people when it comes to the legislative process, as practiced in Illinois. This is a bill that is a long shot to become law.

Currie and Mulligan may be high-ranking members of the Illinois House of Representatives, but the Illinois House is run by Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago – who personally opposes abortion and thinks his political party’s vehement support for it is misguided.

Abortion opponents privately admit Madigan is their best ally. He allows their measures to get fair hearings and allows individual Democrats to vote their conscience – which lets Dem legislators from rural Illinois to break from the party platform position.

ALSO, WHEN ONE considers that Democratic legislators these days can’t play nice with each other, it is unlikely that a majority of people in both chambers of the General Assembly will manage to support the issue, and get Blagojevich to sign the measure into law.

So if you are considering getting all worked up by the Illinois Family Institute’s hysterical missive that tries to scare people into envisioning 13-year-old girls having abortions, take a deep breath.

Then, realize the bill is likely just another of the “perennial issue” bills that come up every year, create a lot of hysterical talk and wind up accomplishing nothing.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Abortion missives can sometimes be comical in their ridiculous use of rhetoric, but this one ( is just absurd.

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