Thursday, November 5, 2009

Holdover abortion measure from GOP’s era of domination still causes headaches

For a few hours on Wednesday, Illinois provided the anti-abortion activists with one of their fantasies come true – yet another law whose purpose was to make it more difficult to obtain a medical procedure that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled legal some 36 years ago.

The state’s Department of Professional Regulation ruled that doctors had to start complying with a 14-year-old-but-never-enforced law that requires all girls under 18 to inform their parents if they desire to end a pregnancy with an abortion.

THAT HAPPENED AT a morning hearing at the Thompson Center state government building. But the anti-abortion victory was squashed in the afternoon hours when a Cook County judge issued an injunction that prevents indefinitely the law from being enforced.

There will be court hearings at some point in the future, so I suppose the day could come when the injunction will be lifted and the law could then be enforced.

Of course, we could also get the day when a judge realizes the absurdity of notification and issues the ruling that strikes this law down. Then, the fight would go on to the appeals and U.S. Supreme Court – which entails more years of litigation.

I can’t help but gloat a bit at the thought that a judge used some sense in listening to the people who argue that requiring a blanket notification policy on all teen girls creates situations where their lives could be ruined.

I GUESS THAT the anti-abortion activists don’t really care about that aspect, so long as they can get their ideological attitude that a legal medical procedure should be next to impossible to obtain imposed on the public.

Part of what set me off enough to want to make my point again was listening to the rant from Joe Scheidler, the long-time head of the anti-abortion Pro-Life Action League. I’m not just upset because he told reporter-types that 44 other states have similar notification laws, while the true total is only 35.

It doesn’t even bother me that he says he will continue to spend the rest of his life opposing this measure. I have never doubted the sincerity of Scheidler’s beliefs on the issue of abortion, no matter how misguided he may be.

What bugged me was the idea that he expressed repeatedly, one that all he’s doing is trying to talk girls out of ending a pregnancy and that somehow, creating laws to protect those girls “creates a bubble” that interferes with his right to free speech.

I HAVE SEEN on too many occasions throughout the years what constitutes expression of free speech to these activists. It is pure intimidation.

Trying to scare someone is offensive enough, but picking on a teenage girl who often may not fully understand her legal rights in the tough situation in which she has found herself is just morally wrong.

It borders on being a bully.

Somehow, I can’t believe that the law is meant to protect the bullies of our society. It is supposed to protect us from those who would bully.

NOT THAT THE bullies aren’t allowed to have such ridiculous thoughts. But it doesn’t mean they can necessarily act upon them.

I’m not about to predict how this issue ultimately will be resolved in Illinois.

Like it has been reported on many occasions, this particular law is a holdover from the spring of 1995 – which was the period when the Illinois General Assembly had a Republican majority to go with six state constitutional officers.

The mighty Mike Madigan was reduced for a two-year period to being the minority leader of the Illinois House of Representatives. The GOP used their control of the political process to ram many long-desired conservative ideological causes down the throat of the Illinois electorate.

MOST OF THOSE measures were ultimately found to be unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court in future years. But this measure has managed to linger on the books – even though the whole concept of creating a notification process that doesn’t cause more problems than it resolves has prevented it from ever being enforced.

I have said on other occasions that part of the reason I don’t feel all that sorry for Republican partisans and the way they have been shut out of the political process by Democrats for the past seven years-and-counting (more than three times as long as GOP domination lasted in Illinois) is because I remember how the GOP behaved in 1995 and 1996.

The fact that we have measures such as this hanging around ought to be considered a lesson for those who might want to start believing all the Republican rhetoric they’re going to hear during the upcoming year from GOP candidates who want us to automatically “Vote Republican!” in next year’s elections.

Part of the reason those Republicans who are hard-core ideologues are upset with Democrats has nothing to do with Rod Blagojevich. It’s all about the fact that harmful measures such as this have no chance of passing the Legislature now.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For a few hours, Illinois was paradise ( for the anti-abortion crowd. Then, reality set in, and the status quo remains.

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