Pro-life orgs in Illinois fight bill to allow publicly-funded abortions

February 20, 2017

Pro-life advocates in Illinois are urging lawmakers to oppose legislation that would allow the use of public money to fund abortions. Illinois House Bill 40, currently awaiting a vote by the state’s House of Representatives, would strike from state law a provision that says Illinois’ medical assistance program cannot pay for abortions. The bill also would allow state workers’ health insurance plans to include coverage for abortions.

Illinois Right to Life is one of the pro-life organizations that opposes HB 40. Its director, Emily Troscinski, said the measure is “the most extreme abortion-expanding bill” she’s seen in her tenure at the organization.

“What it does is it provides free abortions for those on Medicaid for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy,” Troscinski said. Currently, state Medicaid funds cover “medically necessary” abortions or those in cases of rape, incest or a pregnancy that endangers the mother’s life.

The cost of HB40, if passed, could be huge in terms of lives lost, Troscinski said. “It’s unlimited, so our estimates are showing this could increase the number of abortions by 12,000 abortions a year.” That’s how many abortions were provided under Medicaid in 1978, the last time the law allowed such coverage in Illinois. Currently, Medicaid covers 108 abortions a year, Troscinski said.

The bill was first proposed in March 2015 but failed to pass in the General Assembly. It was reintroduced in 2016 following Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President, with a new provision that would allow Illinois to continue to perform abortions should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

“We want to affirm that Illinois is a state where abortion will be safe and accessible,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), told the Associated Press in November. “There has never been such a threat to a woman’s right to choose as there is under (Donald) Trump.”

Troscinski said the provision is one way the bill’s sponsors are appealing to their fellow legislators. “That’s how they’re getting a lot of representatives to sign on it to, is by saying, ‘We have to keep abortion legal in Illinois.’”

Another troubling aspect of HB 40 for the pro-life community is that it removes language from the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975 that identifies the unborn child as “a human being from the time of conception” and therefore “entitled to the right to life from conception” under state law.

“We have to ask ourselves what kind of cultural narrative this is creating in Illinois,” Troscinski said, noting that unborn children are considered human beings in homicide laws, but now some are arguing that personhood application doesn’t extend to cases of abortion.

The provision is an issue for Rep. Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor), who told Springfield’s State Journal-Register newspaper, “I take great exception to the section that removes the personhood of a baby.” Jesiel is on the House Human Services Committee, which approved HB 40 on February 8 by a vote of 7 to 5.

Jesiel also pointed to another problem that pro-life advocates have argued about HB 40—that lawmakers ought to be focusing more on fixing the state’s budget crisis. “I can understand exceptions for the health of the mother, those kinds of things, life happens,” Jesiel said. “But expanding it (abortion) without any restrictions is financially a very big problem. Let’s focus on the things that are of critical nature right now.”

In addition to protecting abortion in Illinois, removing personhood of the unborn and altering Medicaid and state workers’ health insurance coverage, HB 40 also would:

The Illinois General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday, February 22. Illinois Right to Life and other pro-life organizations are urging citizens to take action now, Troscinski said. “We are urging every Illinoisan to call their state representative and urge them to no on this extreme bill.”

Pregnancy centers file suit against Illinois governor

In other life-related Illinois news, 18 pregnancy resource centers are seeking an injunction against a law they say interferes with their ability to fulfill their mission of promoting alternatives to abortion.

Senate Bill 1564, adopted last year and effective January 1, 2017, amended the Health Care Right of Conscience Act to require health care facilities to adopt protocols that are “designed to ensure that conscience-based objections do not cause impairment of patients’ health and that explain how conscience-based objections will be addressed in a timely manner to facilitate patient health care services.”

The result is that pregnancy centers and pro-life doctors are required to talk about abortion as a legal treatment option, to discuss the “benefits” of abortion, and, if asked, to refer clients to abortion providers, said Attorney Thomas Olp of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society.

“What’s particularly pernicious about this law is that here in Illinois, they put the requirement to talk about abortion in the very statute that originally gave pregnancy centers and pro-life doctors the permission not to talk about abortion,” Olp said.

Because of the law, some pregnancy centers have been forced to change how they operate, he added. “Some of them have decided not to do sonograms because that’s a medical procedure that clearly is covered by the new law.”

In addition to the 18 centers who sued Rauner on Feb. 9, the Thomas More Society also is representing two others who filed suit this month. Olp said they hope to have a hearing and decision on the injunction within a month; a favorable result would stay the law pending final resolution of the lawsuit.

More information about the lawsuit is available here. For updates on HB 40, which would allow publicly-funded abortions in Illinois, go to illinoisrighttolife.org.

Do you want to help stop abortions in our country? Please sign the petition to defund Planned Parenthood, the largest supplier of abortions in the U.S. Tell Congress you don't want your tax dollars to pay for abortions. 

Meredith Flynn

Meredith Flynn is the Managing Editor for Illinois Baptist State Association. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24