The Weldon Amendment’s coming back to life: what this could mean for Illinois

Recently, a familiar pro-life amendment has made the news: the Weldon Amendment.

Last week, the Washington Examiner reported that the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, sent a formal letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, requesting that the Weldon Amendment be reviewed by the HHS. IL Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6), along with six other members of Congress, signed the letter as well.

Under President Obama, the Weldon Amendment had not been enforced. Now, the HHS Secretary will be looking into how to properly enforce it.

So why is this so important, and what does it have to do with Illinois?

It could potentially have an impact on the new, radical pro-abortion law: SB 1564.

How? Let’s take it from the top.

What is the Weldon Amendment?

The Weldon Amendment is one of the federal statutes enacted to protect the conscience rights of health care providers who do not want to participate in certain services that go against their convictions and values.  This particular provision protects doctors, various health care organizations, insurance plans, and other health professionals from being forced to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions. Federal funds through the HHS appropriations will be cut off from any agency, program, or state or local government that discriminates against these health care providers.

In 2004, Representative Dave Weldon (R-FLA), first sponsored the language of the Weldon Amendment. It was subsequently voted on by the House Appropriations Committee and adopted as a provision of the HHS appropriations bill. Since then, it has been added to the HHS appropriation annually.

Why does it need re-enforcing?

In August of 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) mandated that all health insurers in the state of California start covering all abortions as a “basic health service.” The Alliance for Conscience Rights reports that this not only made abortion-on-demand a standard of health care, but it also required faith based institutions (Churches) and those morally opposed to abortion to abide by the ruling as well – hence violating the Weldon Amendment. Complaints were sent to the Department of Health and Human Services federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR). However, the OCR dismissed them and reinterpreted the law, claiming that insurance providers had no protection under the Weldon Amendment.

Not long after in 2016, California Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 775 into law, requiring licensed health care facilities, including crisis pregnancy centers, to provide a notice that refers their patients for abortions. There is no exception for organizations opposed to abortion.

The Weldon Amendment had been kicked to the curb.

So how does this relate to Illinois law?

In late July of 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Senate Bill SB 1564. This bill, which went into effect January 1st, 2017, forces all Illinois medical personnel and pregnancy resource centers to refer for abortions and discuss the “benefits” of abortion, regardless of their moral convictions or missions. Since then, three lawsuits have been filed on behalf of pro-life doctors and pregnancy resource centers throughout the state.

Before the bill had been called for a vote, three Illinois Congressmen penned a bipartisan letter to the members of the General Assembly, urging them to reject SB 1564. They were Congressman Peter Roskam (R), Congressman Dan Lipinski (D), and Congressman Randy Hultgren (R).

One of their primary arguments was that the bill would violate federal law, including the Weldon Amendment. This, in turn, could possibly jeopardize federal funding. They wrote:

“The provisions stand in stark contrast to the requirements of superseding federal law, including the Church Amendment, the Coats-Snowe Amendment, and the annual Hyde-Weldon Amendment. Moving forward with such legislation at the state level could seriously imperil federal funds for healthcare programs, including reimbursements under Medicare and Medicaid.”

Now that the Weldon Amendment is being brought back to life, will this have any impact on Illinois and its current, anti-conscience, legislation? The HHS is currently reviewing the details of the amendment based on the California law. However, we’ve personally spoken with Congressman Roskam’s office and confirmed he is requesting they look into how it affects Illinois’ the new law too.

Stay tuned for more updates.

7 SHOCKING Things We Learned from the Congressional Investigation

Yep. The cat is out of bag now.

Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry have lots of explaining to do.

The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives released a 471 page majority report, at the very end of last year, detailing their work and findings (Blackburn, 2016). This Congressional panel, chaired by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), was created to investigate Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry’s involvement in the unethical and potentially illegal trafficking of body parts from aborted babies.

After the investigation, Congresswoman Blackburn remarked,

“It is my hope that our recommendations will result in some necessary changes within both the abortion and fetal tissue procurement industries. Our hope is that these changes will both protect women and their unborn children, as well as the integrity of scientific research.” (Energy & Commerce Committee, 2017)

In response to the report’s release, Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-9), also a member of the panel, called it “illegitimate,” saying the Panel left behind a “legacy of lies, intimidation, and misconduct.” (Schakowsky, 2017)

Is that so?

Actually, if you had a chance to read through all 471 pages of the research, evidence, and facts detailed in the report, we’d bet you’d think otherwise. But that’s quite a read – so we did that for you!

Here are 7 SHOCKING things we learned from the Select Panel’s investigation:

 

1. The University of Illinois Chicago paid Stem Express for baby parts?

The Panel’s forensic accountant collected the invoices that Stem Express (a baby part procurement company) sent to its customers. They found that the University of Illinois Chicago was among a host of other publicly funded schools that purchased fetal tissue and body parts (and/or products derived from fetal tissue) from Stem Express. They document the purchases according to year (Blackburn, 2016, p. 176):

2012: $335

2013: $820

TOTAL: $1,155

stem-express-orders-uic

And what a coincidence…

Just last year, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) produced documents detailing orders for fetal body parts from Stem Express, in March of 2013. According to the order, researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago had ordered the brain of a 10-week-old aborted baby for research (Progress, 2013, p. 1).

cmp-baby-part-order

Are your tax dollars being used by the University of Illinois Chicago and other publicly funded schools to harvest and purchase the body parts of aborted children?

 

2. Fetal tissue is NOT vital to life-saving research.

Interestingly, in February of 2016, Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky sent a letter to a list of universities, scientific societies, and medical societies, asking them for information on the following:

“Past benefits of fetal tissue research.”

“Potential future benefits that might be gained through continued fetal tissue research.”

“Unique aspects of fetal tissue in research, in comparison with adult cells, stem cells, or other cellular organisms that might be used for research purposes.”(Blackburn, 2016, p. 374)

After receiving responses from several institutions (including the University of Illinois at Chicago UIC), the Panel came to the following conclusion:

While the question of whether human fetal tissue provides unique benefits to research is important, not a single one of the responding institutions provided substantive evidence relevant to this question.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 375)

From their research, the Panel also found:

  • Early vaccine research did NOT rely on human fetal tissue.
  • Human fetal tissue was NOT used to produce vaccines for polio and other diseases in the last century.
  • The production of modern vaccines do NOT depend on human fetal tissue.
  • Fetal tissue is NOT necessary for the study of diseases that affect the human brain, like Zika and Down Syndrome.
  • Human fetal tissue is NOT vital for a “wide range of life-saving research.”(Blackburn, 2016, pp. xxxviii-xl)

 

3. Planned Parenthood of Illinois has a history of Medicaid fraud.

As we have noted before, Planned Parenthood of Illinois is no stranger to the improper handling of Medicaid funds. Now, the Select Investigative Panel, in their own investigation, confirms this.

Having assessed 51 external audits of Planned Parenthood affiliates in different states, the Congressional panel found a shocking total of $8,552,264.20 in overbilling (Blackburn, 2016, p. 313). With regards to Illinois, they state:

“This audit by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Inspector General of Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) found 641 missing records, 31 instances of billing for non-covered services, and 10 instances of billing for services actually performed by someone else, as well as improper procedure codes.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 315)

As a result of the audit, PPIL repaid the state $367,000 for Medicaid overbilling and failure to document their services provided. (Blackburn, 2016, p. 315)

So… do you trust Planned Parenthood with your tax dollars?

 

4. Planned Parenthood clinics profited from the sale of fetal tissue?

Among other evidence referred to in the report, the production of documents from StemExpress and their bank during the investigation revealed that “substantial payments” had been made to Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics (Blackburn, 2016, p. 39). Furthermore, interviews with the CEO of StemExpress showed that StemExpress, as the “middleman,” had been performing all the tasks required to procure fetal tissue at Planned Parenthood clinics…but Planned Parenthood documented they were doing the same work Stem Express claimed to do (Blackburn, 2016, p. 323).

The Panel reported,

“It became clear that StemExpress was doing all the work to obtain consent for donation from individual patients, that StemExpress was doing the work of harvesting the fetal tissue after an abortion was complete, and that StemExpress was doing the work and passing on its costs of shipping to customers. This raised a profound issue for the Panel: Both the middleman and the PPFA affiliate clinic were claiming the same expenses against their revenue to show a loss on fetal tissue sales.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 327)

The following chart depicts this discrepancy:

pp-cost-deduction-chart

So both Planned Parenthood and StemExpress claimed the same costs and expenses for services that only one company–Stem Express – could perform. How can you be reimbursed for services you never provided? Was Planned Parenthood making a profit?

According to the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, Title 42 U.S.C., 289g-2(a) states:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.” (Code, Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter III, Part H, Section 289g-2, 2010)

   Those who violate this federal law will face fines and imprisonment.

 

5. Abortion doctors adjusted their methods to obtain more fetal tissue

Planned Parenthood executives, policy makers, and abortion doctors were called to testify before the Select Panel. One interview with a Planned Parenthood executive proceeded as follows (Blackburn, 2016, pp. 357-358):

A          I mean exactly what it said, which is their—providers can change their technique to increase success.

Q         What would that—what would be that change in technique?

A          I can’t speak for every provider. If—every procedure is different. Providers make changes in technique as they’re doing a procedure the whole time for a variety of reasons. There are probably a myriad of changes that can be made.

Q         Okay. Which ones could be made to increase the success of a fetal tissue donation?

A          That’s a very broad question and I think unless we were talking about a specific procedure I couldn’t answer it for you.

Q         “There are little things they can make in their technique to increase your success.” What are those little things?

A          Again, as I mentioned, a change in instruments, a change in where they’re grasping the tissue. These are changes in technique that a provider can make for a variety of reasons. I—

Q         But it could be made to increase the success of fetal tissue donation.

A          Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

With the evidence presented, the Panel later concluded:

“It is clear that the PPFA executive in charge of directing the MS&G guidelines, altered the method of the abortion procedure in her own practice. It is also clear that she has not complied with the directive of the MS&G manual regarding the requirement to affirm that the method of the abortion has NOT been changed to promote fetal tissue donation.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 359)

Title 42 U.S.C. 289g-1 of the NIH Revitalization Act 1993, expressly prohibits the “alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy… used solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue.” (Code, Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter III, Part H, Section 289g-1, 2010)

The safety of the patient should always be of primary concern to the physician. Altering an abortion procedure for the purpose of harvesting harvest baby body parts can put a patient’s safety in jeopardy.

 

6. Planned Parenthood consent forms were “inaccurate” and “insufficient”

During the Panel hearing, a researcher and ethics expert were asked about the patient consent form widely used by Planned Parenthood abortion clinics to obtain consent from women to donate and use their aborted baby’s tissue. In response, the researcher claimed that the form would have never “made it past” his Institutional Review Board. The ethics expert also stated that the standards and thoroughness of consent required in such a form were missing (Blackburn, 2016, p. 15).

The form specifically states,

“Research using the blood from pregnant women and tissue that has been aborted has been used to treat and find a cure for such diseases as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and AIDS.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 361)

This, however, was already shown to be false by the Panel.

In addition, the Panel reports that numerous witnesses, including senior PPFA officials, testified before the Panel and held the form to be “misleading and unethical.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 182) In fact, the very individual in charge of overseeing the production of the PPFA manual stated:

“If I’m evaluating the form now, you are correct. To my knowledge there is no cure for AIDS. So that is probably an inaccurate statement. . . . a consent form should not have an incorrect statement.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 182)

Another Planned Parenthood executive also stated,

I would agree that that is insufficient for obtaining informed consent, correct.” (Blackburn, 2016, p. 363)

 

7. Planned Parenthood and Stem Express violated HIPPA laws protecting patients’ privacy

As the Panel report explains, the HIPAA privacy rule protects all the “protected health information” (PHI) of an individual, held or transmitted by a covered entity or business associate (hospital, clinic, doctor, etc.). The entity, in turn, may not use or disclose a patient’s PHI unless authorized, or they can be penalized with criminal fines or imprisonment. (Blackburn, 2016, p. 363)

The Panel makes very clear that under HIPPA, StemExpress does not qualify as a “business associate,” and therefore is “not permitted to obtain the PHI of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics’ patients” without the patient’s consent (which they did not obtain). (Blackburn, 2016, p. 368)

Nevertheless, the Panel found that:

Planned Parenthood clinics intentionally disclosed patients’ individually identifiable health information to StemExpress to facilitate the TPB’s efforts to procure human fetal tissue for resale.” (Blackburn, 2016, pp. 365-366)

How so?

The Panel investigation found that StemExpress placed procurement technicians inside Planned Parenthood clinics, and they followed a specific work sequence: the customer placed the order for the specimens, Planned Parenthood gave StemExpress a list of patients and their medical files and PHI’s, Stem Express chose who they wanted and sought out the patients by name, Stem Express paid Planned Parenthood for the specimens and then resold them for four to six hundred percent of the original cost. (Blackburn, 2016, pp. 366-367)

 

From the looks of it, Planned Parenthood, StemExpress, and the rest of the abortion industry are in hot water. 15 criminal referrals for potential prosecution have been made as result of this investigation, and some of these referrals have already been put into action.

We will keep you updated as the results of the investigation as they unfold.

 

Works Cited

Blackburn, R. M. (2016). Select Investigative Panel Final Report. Washington D.C.: Energy & Commerce Committee, US House of Representatives. Retrieved from https://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/documents/Select_Investigative_Panel_Final_Report.pdf

Code, U. S. (2010). Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter III, Part H, Section 289g-1. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title42/html/USCODE-2010-title42-chap6A-subchapIII-partH-sec289g-1.htm

Code, U. S. (2010). Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter III, Part H, Section 289g-2. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title42/html/USCODE-2010-title42-chap6A-subchapIII-partH-sec289g-2.htm

Energy & Commerce Committee, U. H. (2017, January 4). Press Release. Washington DC. Retrieved from Energy & Commerce Committee: https://energycommerce.house.gov/news-center/press-releases/select-investigative-panel-releases-final-report

Progress, C. f. (2013, March 20). Updated Task Assignment: Procurement Schedule Wednesday 3/20/13. Retrieved from http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Updated-Task-Assignment-Procurement-Schedule-Wednesday-32013.pdf

Schakowsky, R. J. (2017, January 3). Schakowsky Blasts Select Panel Republicans’ Secretive and Flawed Final Report. Washington DC. Retrieved from https://schakowsky.house.gov/press-releases/schakowsky-blasts-select-panel-republicans-secretive-and-flawed-final-report/

 

 

Are You In?

On Wednesday, March 1st, 40 Days for Life will kick of its 2017 Spring Campaign. Participants are getting geared up and ready to go for what’s going to be campaign number TWENTY!

And it’s going to be big – in size and impact. People from 340 locations, in 28 different countries, are said to be joining in this peaceful vigil for life. Over the past ten years, they’ve reported:

  • 12,668 lives saved from abortion
  • 143 abortion workers quit their jobs
  • 83 abortion facilities closed

There have also been:

  • 725,000 individual participants
  • 4,535 total campaigns
  • 675 cities
  • 40 countries
  • 19,000 churches

40 Days for Life writes:

“With prayerful hearts, we will now be going forward with our next international effort from March 1 to April 9. We don’t know what surprises the Lord has in store in the future … but we’ve certainly seen His hand at work thus far in response to your prayers!”

Check out this short clip explaining the history, results, and proven strategies that make 40 Days for Life so effective:

So the question is: are you in?

Will you be a part of this incredible life-saving effort?

It’s easy! Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Find a location closest to you.
  2. Create a profile at 40 days for life to sign up.
  3. Select a time(s) that you will pray outside the center.
  4. Show up for your scheduled time and pray for the women and men seeking abortion and for their unborn child.

Here are the locations in Illinois:

Downers Grove

Public right-of-way outside
Access Health Center
1700 75th Street
Downers Grove, Illinois

Simply sign up by clinic here.

For more information or a map of this location, visit their campaign website here.

Ottawa

Public right-of-way outside
Planned Parenthood
612 Court Street
Ottawa, Illinois

Simply sign up by clinic here.

For more information or a map of this location, visit their campaign website here.

Springfield

Public right-of-way outside
Planned Parenthood
1000 East Washington Street
Springfield, Illinois

Simply sign up by clinic here.

For more information or a map of this location, visit their campaign website here.

Champaign, IL

Public right-of-way outside
Planned Parenthood
302 East Stoughton Street
Champaign, Illinois

 

Simply sign up by clinic here.

For more information or a map of this location, visit their campaign website here.

The 6 Most Shocking Things about HB 40

You’ll never believe what our state representatives are trying to push into law. The legislation is ready to be called for vote in the House, at any time. The bill is HB 40, and if we don’t act now, it could soon be on its way to the Governor’s desk.

But what’s so dangerous about this legislation?

Well, we read through the full text of the bill, and what we found left us stunned. There’s more to it than meets the eye. From beginning to end, here are…

 

The 6 Most Shocking Things about HB 40

 

1. It makes abortion a “health benefit” for state employees, paid for by you.

The State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1971 (amended in 1980) provides that the program of health benefits for state employees will cover expenses for dental services, prescription drugs, hearing evaluations, hearing aids, outpatient diagnostic x-rays, and laboratory tests. It specifically states that abortions will not be included in this benefit package, unless the procedure is necessary for “the preservation of the life of the woman.” A court ruling following the enactment of this legislation expanded this abortion coverage to rare cases of rape, incest, and danger to the health of the woman. But HB 40 strikes this language completely, making abortions – for any reason – a “health benefit,” paid for with your tax dollars.

 

2. It forces Illinoisans to cover the cost of abortions for those on Medicaid, done for any reason during all nine months of pregnancy.

Currently, the Illinois Medicaid program covers costs for “medically necessary” abortions or those performed in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother.  According to the Illinois Public Aid Code, coverage is not to be extended to abortions done for any other reason. HB 40, however, removes this language. It also removes the portion the code that requires a written statement from the physician to support the patients’ claim for coverage of the procedure. By doing this, HB 40 gives Medicaid coverage to all abortions, including those done for convenience and birth control.

In Illinois, there are virtually no restrictions on abortion. Current state law prohibits abortion after viability of the child, which is around 24 weeks. However, in addition to cases of rape, incest, and preservation of the life of the woman, abortion for the sake of the “health” of the woman is also an exception. The impact which the continuation of a woman’s pregnancy has on her health is left to her doctor’s discretion. In the case Doe vs. Bolton, the Supreme Court defined health as “all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient.” The wide interpretation of the term “health” makes it possible for an abortion to be performed at any time, through all nine months of pregnancy. Hence, your tax dollars could be used to pay for abortions, done for any reason, when the child’s heart is beating, when he or she can feel the pain of being dismembered, and even when the child can survive outside the womb.

 

3. It removes language protecting women from abortion doctors with a criminal history against women.

Illinois Public Aid Code states:

“The Illinois Department, by rule, shall prohibit any physician from providing medical assistance to anyone eligible therefore under this Code where such physician has been found guilty of performing an abortion procedure in a willful and wanton manner upon a woman who was not pregnant at the time such abortion procedure was performed.”

What does HB 40 do?

You guessed it – it scraps this language too. HB 40 would now make it possible for abortion providers, who have committed horrendous acts against women – like intentionally performing an abortion on a woman who is not pregnant – to continue to do business with the Medicaid program and receive state funding for their work. What could be a more obvious example of complete disregard the safety and well-being of women?

 

4. It allows state grants to go to organizations that refer for, counsel for, or provide abortions.

According to the current text of the Problem Pregnancy Health Services and Care Act, the Illinois Department is allowed to make grants to non-profit agencies and organizations that provide certain medical services and treatments. However, it specifically states that grants cannot be sent to organizations that refer for, counsel for, or perform abortions.

HB 40 strikes this restriction, allowing taxpayer funded state grants to be sent to abortion providers and other organizations in Illinois that not only provide abortions but also encourage and refer women for abortions. This is just another way to push Illinoisans into funding the abortion business.

 

5. It trashes the longstanding policy of Illinois to recognize the unborn child as a human being.

“The General Assembly of the State of Illinois do solemnly declare and find in reaffirmation of the longstanding policy of this State, that the unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes of the unborn child’s right to life and is entitled to the right to life from conception under the laws and Constitution of this State.”

This declaration is part of the first section of the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, and HB 40 throws it entirely out.  In 1975, the General Assembly made clear that the State recognized the unborn child as a human being, and since then, science and medicine have done nothing less than continue to prove this to be true.  Currently, Illinois has three state laws that also rely on this definition. These laws recognize the death of an unborn child as a homicide if the mother is murdered or killed in motor vehicle accident.

If legislators are moving to remove this language, we have to ask ourselves: as a people, and as State, what are we trying to say? What message are we sending to our citizens who choose to live here? That we don’t recognize the scientifically proven humanity of the unborn child anymore?

 

6. It poses an unpredictable financial burden to the State.

Just last week, these two very important notes were filed and recorded on the bill. Here they are:

Balanced Budget Note (Office of Management and Budget)

An accurate cost assessment for this bill cannot be completed at this time because it does not mandate the State to fund these services. However, by removing these prohibitions it opens the State up for significant cost liabilities to incur. It is unknown how often these services would be utilized by Medicaid enrollees or State employees, the exact cost to health insurance plans, or how many new grant requests the Department of Human Services would receive as a response to this, and future related legislation.

Fiscal Note (Dept. of Healthcare & Family Services)

The estimated annual cost for abortion services resulting from House Bill 40 is approximately $1.8 million, which would be 100% GRF funded. There may be other budgetary impacts that are not quantifiable.

 

Both the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Healthcare & Family Services agree that the realistic costs and budgetary impacts of this bill on the State are “unknown” and “not quantifiable.” But we can say that expenses will be 100% taken care of by the General Revenue Fund (GRF) – a.k.a. your tax dollars.

With HB 40, there is no cap to the number of abortions that could be covered by Medicaid, and essentially no cap to the amount of taxpayer dollars spent. The last time Illinoisans paid for unrestricted Medicaid funded abortions was in the late ’70s, when approximately 12,738 abortions were paid for by Medicaid at a cost of over $1.8 million ($1,876,837). If we revert back to this, we could be looking at an additional 12,000 abortions per year that the state would pay for.

 

What’s hidden in the text of HB 40 is astounding, and the ramifications of this legislation may be more than you expected. This ridiculous policy will increase abortion numbers, expand abortion coverage at taxpayers’ expense, and likely change the cultural and legal foundation of our state.

We need you to tell your state representative right now to vote NO on this HB40, so we can put a stop to this radical legislation once and for all. To find your state legislator, visit the link here.

Illinois Bishops Speak Out: Urge Parishioners to Take Action against HB40

It’s official. The Bishops have joined the fight.

The extreme, pro-abortion bill proposed in the Illinois General Assembly – HB 40 – has sparked tremendous outrage throughout Illinois. Now, word of its potential passage has reached ecclesiastical desks.

In response, the Catholic bishops throughout the state are speaking out. They have each written letters to their parishioners, strongly urging them to take action against HB 40 by calling their state representatives and telling them to vote NO on this bill.

In his letter to Catholics within the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Blasé Cupich encouraged the faithful to act, writing:

“We have raised our voices in the past for those who have no voice, whether they be the immigrant or the refugee, the poor, or the unemployed. We now need to speak for the children in the womb, who are the weakest among us.”

The Most Reverend Daniel Conlon, Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, stressed the importance of Catholics’ involvement saying,

“One of the noblest forms of witness that we Catholics give in our contemporary society is to stand up for the dignity of human beings as children of God. We feel a special commitment to the most vulnerable and the most innocent of all: children in the womb….It is essential that people who believe in the protection of human life in the womb contact their proper state legislators and express their opposition to House Bill 40.”

In his letter, Bishop Edward Braxton of the Diocese of Belleville, relayed the consequences of the legislation, writing:

“Happily, the national abortion rate is at its lowest since the Roe v. Wade ruling. Unfortunately, the enactment of House Bill 40 would set back those efforts by coercing all who pay taxes to support indirectly the ending of developing innocent human life.”

In addition, Bishop of the Diocese of Peoria, the Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, makes the point:

“It is worth noting that abortion is an elective procedure and using state tax dollars to pay for it is not only immoral, but also an injustice. A far better use of tax money would be to fund prenatal services for the poor and child care for working mothers, as well as expand health care options for those in need.”

Furthermore, in his letter, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield posed the question:

“We have to ask why our elected representatives would turn their backs on paying for programs that help the disabled, the elderly, children in need and students, yet find the will to publicly fund the terrible tragedy of abortion.”

In his letter, Bishop Malloy of the Diocese of Rockford, wrote:

“We are working hard to build a culture of life by advocating for laws that make it easier to bring a child into this word.”

Echoing the words of his fellow bishops, he continued,

“I ask for your prayers for the protection of life, and I urge that you please contact your state representative to vote against this bill.”

The Bishops of Illinois have called for a united opposition among Catholics against HB 40. This bill will provide free abortions through the full nine months of pregnancy for any reason for those on Medicaid. This means the government will provide free abortions even when the unborn child can feel the pain of being aborted. All of this will be at the Illinois taxpayer’s expense.

We need you to call your state representative right now. Tell them you strongly oppose HB 40 and that you’d like them to vote no.

Click here to find your state representative’s phone number and immediately call the 217 Springfield office number. 

 

You can read the full text of each of these letters here:

Letter from Cardinal Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Letter from Bishop Edward Braxton of the Diocese of Belleville

Letter from Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of the Diocese of Joliet

Letter from Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Diocese of Peoria

Letter from Bishop David Malloy of the Diocese of Rockford (Spanish)

Letter from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield-in-Illinois

A Reflection on my First March for Life

Shaking and shivering a bit, I struggled to keep my balance.

“You okay up there?”

My friend’s voice trembled a little… probably because I was sitting on top of his shoulders, fidgeting and grappling with my camera. I needed to get the perfect shot – one that would capture the enormous sea of people that surrounded me and consumed the entire field beneath the Washington Monument.

I had never seen anything like it.

It was Friday, January 27, 2017 – the date which hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers from all across the United States had been preparing for. Their mission: to unite and testify to the beauty of life and dignity of the human person.

The chanting, the colors, the signs – it was so lively it was overwhelming. But I guess that’s the kind of reaction you would expect from the new kid on the block. Yes, this was the first time I had ever attended the National March for Life.

In the center of Washington D.C., the growing multitude gathered around the stage. I have to say – I felt like a small drop in a moving ocean of people.

“Because of all of you and the many thousands who stand with us in marches all across the nation – life is winning again in America.”

These words echoed from the stage and provoked a surge of enthusiasm in the crowd. For the first time in history, a Vice President of the United States was addressing the participants of the March for Life. But the excitement was transformed into silence when he spoke these words…which I’ll never forget:

“I urge you to press on. Let your gentleness be evident to all. Let this movement be known for love, not anger. Let this movement be known for compassion, not confrontation. When it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing stronger than gentleness. I believe we will continue to win the minds and hearts of the rising generation if our hearts first break for mothers and their unborn children and meet them where they are with generosity, not judgment.” – Vice President Mike Pence

Love, compassion, gentleness, and generosity – these were the characteristics of the people I encountered that day. Not one foul word, not one rude comment, was heard. There was a common respect and contagious joy among the participants.

Eventually, I got down off my friend’s poor shoulders and we listened attentively to the inspiring words and beautiful stories of the other speakers. Among these was Congresswoman Mia Love, who left the crowd awestruck when she recounted:

“Forty-one years ago a couple from Haiti could have made the choice to abort, but they didn’t. They chose life. They didn’t choose what might have been; they chose what is to come. They went and followed and fostered that life, and the future and the dreams that baby would bring. I’m certain that this couple would never have thought that that child would become the first black female Republican ever to be elected to Congress.”

Congresswoman Mia Love was that child.

NFL football star, Ben Watson, reflected on the theme of the March – the Power of One – when he said:

“Looking out, I see a sea of collective humanity, but looking closer I see individuals who have their own spheres of influence. This is the power of one. It is the power of influence, to influence people in our neighborhoods in our churches, in our workplaces on our teams. It is also the power to unite as we have today as one, for a common cause to end the unthinkable practice of abortion in America.”

As the program came to a close, we joined the moving mass that was pouring into the street. Soon enough, the March for Life had begun.

Up the road to Capitol Hill we went – smiling, singing, chanting (and taking lots of pictures). But here’s where we get to my favorite part of the whole day:

The moment when I stopped, in the middle of the March, and turned around.

Behind me was a long, winding, swath of people that filled the streets from side to side and had no end in sight. Small children, mothers with their babies, fathers with their families, teenagers, grandparents, college students, young men and women from all different walks of life – all marching together.

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Then, there were the signs – reading those was just about half the fun. Here are a few of my favorites…

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At the end of the day, I was left with this final thought. This march was different from other marches in a very profound way:

We were not marching for ourselves. We were not marching for our rights or in demand some social or personal petition. We were marching for the rights of other human beings – who couldn’t march or stand up for themselves.

Unfortunately, words cannot express how incredible an experience this was for me. Joy, love, passion, courage – so many emotions emanating from the crowd and filling my heart. But if I was given only one word to describe what I felt after going to this year’s March for Life in D.C., it would be hope. Hope for the unborn, hope for my generation, and hope for our country in the years to come.

BREAKING: Trump Picks Judge Neil Gorsuch to be the Next Supreme Court Justice

BREAKING: President Donald Trump Nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

On Tuesday, January 30, 2017, President Donald Trump announced to the nation his choice for Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor on the Supreme Court: Judge Neil Gorsuch.

“We are extremely proud of President Trump’s decision to nominate Neil Gorsuch,” said Emily Troscinski, executive director of Illinois Right to Life. “Judge Gorsuch has expressed his regard for the fundamental right to life of every human person. It is our hope that as successor to pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia, he will continue to be a voice upholding the value and dignity of human life in the high court.”

In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Judge Gorsuch to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Senate confirmed him with a voice vote, according to SCOTUSblog. Gorsuch is 49 years old and hails from Denver Colorado.

So will he follow in the footsteps of Justice Antonin Scalia?

In his article for the National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor, writes that Judge Gorsuch is “a well-respected conservative whose legal philosophy is remarkably similar to that of Antonin Scalia.” Ponnuru continues,

“He is, like Scalia, a textualist and an originalist: someone who interprets legal provisions as their words were originally understood.”

Upon the death of Antonin Scalia, Gorsuch said in his tribute to the late Justice:

“Judges should instead strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be — not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best. As Justice Scalia put it, ‘if you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.'”

After Trump announced his nomination to the high court, Judge Gorsuch also made clear that he would act as a “servant of the Constitution and laws of this country,” a mentality that was characteristic of Justice Scalia, whom Gorsuch referred to as a “lion of the law.”

And what’s his record like, from the pro-life perspective?

In 2006, Judge Gorsuch published his book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. In it, he argues against the two practices, expressing the fundamental right of every person to not be killed. The Princeton University Press described it as:

“A nuanced, novel, and powerful moral and legal argument against legalization [of assisted suicide and euthanasia], one based on a principle that, surprisingly, has largely been overlooked in the debate—the idea that human life is intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong.”

In his book, he also makes mention of the Courts decision of Roe v. Wade, saying:

“In Roe, the Court explained that, had it found the fetus to be a ‘person’ for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, it could not have created a right to abortion because no constitutional basis exists for preferring the mother’s liberty interests over the child’s life.”

In his article for the National Review, Ed Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, notes Judge Gorsuch’s dissent in the court’s ruling, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert. The court barred the Governor of Utah from defunding Planned Parenthood, but Gorsuch, who was in support of Planned Parenthood’s defunding, argued against this. 

What happens next?

Now, President Trump’s nomination will head to the Senate for confirmation. This means Judge Gorsuch will need a majority vote in the Senate to be confirmed as a Justice on the Supreme Court.

It is important to note, that a nomination to the Supreme Court is subject to a “cloture” vote in the Senate. When the nominee’s appointment is being debated by the members of the U.S. Senate, 60 votes will be needed to end the debate. This simple majority yes-vote will confirm the nominee’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

 

President Trump Ends U.S. Funding for Abortions Overseas

BREAKING:

On Monday, January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. foreign aid to be sent to international, non-governmental organizations that provide or promote abortions overseas, as a method of family planning.

The policy which Trump has put into place is known as the Mexico City Policy, and it is the first pro-life policy to be enacted in approximately 8 years!

But this is not the first time that this rule has been enacted.

The Mexico City Policy was first established by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. According to the Weekly Standard, it was rescinded by President Clinton, reenacted by President George W. Bush, and once again rescinded by President Obama.

When President Obama did away with the policy in his second week in office, a Gallup poll showed how unpopular rescinding the rule really was among Americans. Gallup reported,

“Obama’s decision to reverse the prohibition on funding for overseas family-planning providers may be the least popular thing he has done so far. […] Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s decision to lift this ban, while only 35% approve of it.”

And as CBS News reports, the policy is not limited to Mexico City. The ban blocks funding to all international charities and other such organizations that provide or promote abortions as family planning, by way of information, referrals, counseling, etc.

That being said, there are two important points to be made concerning the rule:

  • The ban includes exceptions for abortion in the case of rape, incest, and life of the mother.
  • This executive order does not “defund” International Planned Parenthood affiliates. On the contrary, they can choose to abide by the rule, or forgo U.S. funding. When President George W. Bush reenacted the policy, International Planned Parenthood chose not to accept U.S. funds so they could still provide abortion services. Essentially, Planned Parenthood is once again left with the ultimatum: Do not provide or promote abortions…or do not receive federal funds.

Today, President Trump enacted his first pro-life policy – a day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It’s definitely a step forward for the pro-life movement.

Could this be a sign of greater things to come?

President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, also held his first press briefing the same day. During the briefing, he elaborated on the President’s commitment to support and protect life. Watch the video here:

 

Is Planned Parenthood a Leader in Women’s Rights?

Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation, calls itself a leader in women’s rights. Planned Parenthood, in their cute pink paint and flashy talking points, has launched themselves to the front of the conversation positioning themselves as a leader in the women’s rights movement.

But does Planned Parenthood speak for women or should women speak for themselves?

What happens when we set aside Planned Parenthood’s pink colored paintbrush and forget their flashy talking points? Let’s compare what we believe feminism means to what Planned Parenthood actually does:

We believe in allowing science to answer the question of when life begins and allowing intellect dictate the outcome. As shown above, it is undisputed in the medical community that life begins at conception.

When Cecile Richards, the CEO of Planned Parenthood was asked on national television when she believes life begins she had three answers:

  1. I don’t think that’s relevant to the issue.
  2. For me life began when my children were born.
  3. Each person should decide for themselves when life begins.

Women’s rights must be based up on intellect. Ms. Richards misled (or lied) to hundreds of thousands of women on when science says life begins. Her response ignored mountains of undisputed scientific data. But what Ms. Richards is also saying is that it doesn’t matter if it is a child, we should still kill her/him anyways. That idea is horrifying.

We believe women deserve to be presented with all the knowledge and facts to make informed decisions.

Planned Parenthood opposes every single informed consent law in the country. Informed consent laws would require Planned Parenthood to inform women of medically accurate information regarding their pregnancy to assist them in making the decision. Women considering abortions would be presented with medical facts about the procedure, the development of the child, and the risks before making her choice.

We believe sexual abusers should not be able to take the girl they are sexually abusing for a secret abortion.

Planned Parenthood opposes every parental involvement law in the country. These laws would require notification or consent from a (or both) parent of a girl before she receives an abortion. This protects girls from being sent back into the hands of their rapists for more sexual abuse. Illinois’ parental notice law reduced the number of abortions on teenage girls by 28.8% in the first year.

We believe in providing women with honest and medically accurate facts.

Planned Parenthood CEO, Cecile Richards was caught lying to women saying they provide life-saving mammograms. However, when asked unde oath if Planned Parenthood provided mammogram, Ms. Richards stated they do not. Watch here:

We believe that women deserve world-class medical facilities.

No Planned Parenthood in Illinois is licensed nor has received a health and sanitary inspection since 1999. In Illinois, tanning salons, Chicago Restaurants, and nursing homes are inspected an average of once ever year. Illinois abortion clinics are inspected an average of once every 9 years.

We believe all men and women are created equal.

Planned Parenthood is currently suing the state of Indiana for making it illegal to abort a child only because it is a girl and the parents wanted a boy. Planned Parenthood defends sex-selective abortion that targets pre-born girls.

We believe every human person is worthy of love and care.

When asked what Planned Parenthood would do if a child was born alive during an abortion and was breathing on the table, the Planned Parenthood representative told the Florida General Assembly they would leave it up to the mother and the doctor whether or not to strangle or suffocate the born child or provide medical care.

We believe women should be presented with clear facts and choices to make decisions for themselves.

92% women seeking pregnancy services from Planned Parenthood receive an abortion instead of an adoption referral or prenatal care. That’s not good counseling, that’s a good sales person.

We believe Planned Parenthood should focus its money on helping women.

If 41% of Planned Parenthood’s income comes from taxpayers, we believe that money should go towards helping women. Let’s look at how Planned Parenthood is spending money:

  • Planned Parenthood has enough excess revenue for a $100 million endowment.
  • Planned Parenthood gave $22 million to its political action and lobbying arm. $11.8 million was given to Democratic candidates. In the 2016 presidential election, Planned Parenthood has pledged to spend $20 million to elect Hilary Clinton. $67 million was spent on fundraising over the course of three years. $200,000 of Planned Parenthood’s money was sent to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a progressive political organization.
  • $14,000 was spent on travel per day ($5.1 million in 2013), while $600,000 was spent on exorbitant parties in 2013.
  • Planned Parenthood sent $32 million overseas to Africa and Latin America, and $3.4 million to Central America and the Caribbean.

Planned Parenthood isn’t the epitome of feminism it is feminism’s nemesis.

“Life Wins!”

Smiling faces, singing and dancing, and LOTS of yellow LIFE balloons.

That’s just about all you could see and hear in the crowded streets of downtown Chicago on Sunday, January 15, 2017.

The temperature was a balmy 35 degrees (yes, that’s balmy this time of year for Chicago), and thousands pro-life people took the streets to be a part of the largest pro-life event in the Midwest: The 2017 March for Life Chicago.

For the second year in row, more than 4,000 people came out to participate in their furry hats, scarfs, and puffy coats. In just its 4th year running, 2017 was another great year for this Midwest March. People from Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, and across Illinois traveled to Chicago with one goal: to share a message of love, hope, and life.

This year’s theme: “Life Wins!” And on this Sunday afternoon, Life did win.

Lake County Sheriff, Mark Curran, emceed the event. Passionate and attentive, march participants also listened to speeches from:

Gianna Jessen – Abortion Survivor (bio)
Bishop Paul – Bishop, Chicago and the Midwest, Orthodox Church of America (bio)
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich – Archbishop, Archdiocese of Chicago (bio)
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison – President, The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (bio)
Congressman Dan Lipinski – U.S. Congressman, 3rd District of IL (bio)
Congressman Peter Roskam – U.S. Congressman, 6th District of IL (bio)
Pat McCaskey – Co-Owner, Chicago Bears (bio)
Aid for Women Pregnancy Help Centers Client (info)
Randy Dziak – Student Leader, Students for Life of IL (info)

In his speech, Reverend Doctor Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, told the crowd,

“Let us love not with lips or tongues but in deed and truth.”

The newly appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said,

“Thank you for your beautiful witness on this day…You speak on behalf of those who have no voice because their voice is too small or too weak.”

He also humorously remarked,

“I was so cold last year, it was the warmth of you that kept me warm.”

Then, in the middle of the rally, was the keynote, Ms. Gianna Jessen, who told her powerful, personal story as a survivor of an abortion. She stated,

“I survived an abortion…. I was born in an abortion clinic, but didn’t die.”

She continued,

“If abortion is merely about women’s rights, then what were mine?”

Although the abortion has left her with physical disabilities, she proclaimed:

“I will be marching…limping gorgeously with you down the streets in Chicago! I am so proud of you for being so courageous for defending those who have no voice.”

At the close of the largest pro-life event in the Midwest, pro-lifers kicked off the end of the March with a celebration of life in the Federal Plaza. The Crusaders for Life never fail to get the crowd going with their dancing and cheering. This day was another day to remember for the pro-life movement throughout Illinois, the Midwest, and the nation.

Here’s a flashback at what happened at the 2017 March for Life Chicago (Photo Credit: Emily Troscinski/Illinois Right to Life):

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How large was the March for Life Chicago crowd? Check it out a glimpse here (Video Credit: Emily Troscinski/Illinois Right to Life)

 

For information about how to get involved with the 2018 March for Life Chicago, email MarchForLifeChicago@gmail.com. For more about March for Life Chicago visit www.MarchForLifeChicago.org.

About the March for Life Chicago

The March for Life Chicago is an annual public event composed of people from diverse ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds dedicated to defending and protecting all human life. The event marks with deep sadness the great tragedy of the legalization of abortion in the United States along with the devastating social, moral, and legal consequences that have followed. Marching together in hope, the March for Life Chicago planning committee works with government, religious, civic, and community leaders to renew every effort to build a nation that affirms the authentic dignity of women, the gift of children, and a culture dedicated to protecting life at every stage of development. Learn more at: www.MarchForLifeChicago.org.