An Illinois House committee focused on farming, livestock, hunting and recreation just unanimously voted a bill out of its committee limiting a woman's right to choose. On Tuesday, the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee unanimously approved a measure that would force clinics that provide abortions to meet tougher measures to continue providing services. The bill would require facilities that perform over 50 D&Cs a year to meet the same requirements as outpatient surgery centers.
One could debate the bill's appropriateness- but if it is a necessary bill, then why is it coming out of a committee that deals with farming and hunting? Doesn't that just look sneaky? The Agriculture and Conservation Committee has four subcommittees: Animals, Firearms, Food Products, and Hunting. With these subcommittees, was the bill put in this committee to take advantage of its downstate conservatives?
"They put it in this committee so they could try to ram it on to the floor of the General Assembly and hope that nobody was paying attention to the real health consequences of this," said Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU Illinois. "So I think that we ought to be calling, 'Shame, shame, shame,' on Rep. Senger and the members of the Agriculture Committee, who may have expertise in regulating muskrats and fertilizer and heifers and road kill, but women I respectfully submit are not livestock."
Representative Darlene Senger, a Naperville Republican and sponsor of the bill said her bill does nothing more than to make clinics that perform D&Cs comply with the same regulations as outpatient surgery centers. The ACLU's Ms. Connell argues the current regulations were written for clinics performing abortions due to a previous state law that a federal court determined was being applied in a discriminatory fashion against abortion providers.
"Instead of going before a committee focused on farming, hunting and recreation, abortion legislation should go to a more appropriate place, such as the Health Care Availability Access Committee," said Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago democrat.
Although Representative Senger said she did not know why the bill was put before her committee on farming and hunting, that assertion was disputed by Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown who said the bill went to her committee upon her request.
Thanks to Steve Brown throwing Senger under the proverbial tractor, we now know Mike Madigan's position on, and therefore the outcome of, the bill. The bill is going the same place it would have gone had it been in the more appropriate Health Care Availability Access Committee: nowhere.