Illinois' regressive Reproductive Health Act eviscerates human rights

Progressives now on “the wrong side of history.”

“A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.”–Illinois’ newly enacted Reproductive Health Act.

Never, to my knowledge has a state passed a law denying a person any and all rights.

America’s history is marked by a steady expansion of rights. Slaves, once considered fractional humans, if that, were freed. Jim Crow laws were replaced by laws ensuring equal protection. Women were given the right to vote along with new laws requiring gender equality in pay and other matters. The right to same sex marriage ushered in new laws recognizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other rights.

It’s a history to be proud of.

Until Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Democrat-control Legislature reversed two centuries of progress in expanding the umbrella of rights for a greater number of vulnerable, innocent or victimized persons.

Among all the extreme provisions of the Illinois Reproductive Act, the most

Gov. Pritzker cheered by regressive as he cheers extreme abortion law. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

Gov. Pritzker cheered by regressive as he cheers extreme abortion law.
(Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

cruel and inhumane is the enshrinement in law of the principle that a fetus has no rights, ever. Not after viability, when it can live on his or her own. Not in the last week of gestation when his or her survival is greater. Not at the moment of birth, as when the body has been delivered and the head punctured while still in the birth canal to make its removal easier.

Here I’m not talking about a fertilized egg, an embryo or a non-viable fetus. The debate is over whether or not such a, for lack of a better description, pre-born person is deserving of “independent” rights (whatever that is). Instead, I’m talking about a fully formed person, with her or his own DNA, with a developed and functioning heart, mind and other organs, fully capable of living outside of the womb.

Now that the idea that such a person has no rights–none at all–is enshrined in law should send shivers down our spines. That such a person has not even a sliver of any right to be balanced with the mother’s rights. That one person has life or death authority over another person’s life.

We’ve had other times in our history when American laws and case-law have decreed that a living person has few or no rights. Other nations also have had their share of dehumanizing laws, mainly tyrannies of the right and left, of Nazism and Communism. Jews, Gypsies and political prisoners. The 20 million that Stalin starved to death. All done under the cover of law. (Hold your horses; I’m not comparing pro-choicers to Hitlers or Stalins. Theirs was a special kind of unprecedented sickness.)

But still, Pritzker, House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and the lawmakers who voted for the law can be accused of regression and of being on the wrong side of history. Most ghastly were those who surrounded Pritzker when he signed the bill, grinning ear-to-ear, cheering, laughing. Has it at last come to this, where women and men can be so bereft of compassion and love that they cheer the legal right for an individual to execute another individual for any reason?

Okay, so we’re into the debate over who is a “person,” entitled to some semblance of rights. It’s a debate over linguistics. The actuality is that except for an extraordinary but normal dependence on another person, properly called a mother, the “fetus,” a “human in waiting” or whatever you want to call it is a someone who is exactly like a mother, you and me.

We’re supposed to think it is not a person because of its dependence on the mother, an autonomous person. But if dependence is the touchstone for defining the fetus as less than a person, then we are entering even more dangerous ground. Who among us isn’t dependent on others? Especially infants after birth, or the elderly who can’t support or fend for themselves. The autistic, the emotionally damaged, the physically impaired and the mentally challenged. Are all of these somehow less than a person having rights? Should their human, natural and civil rights, by law, be ripped from them?

The above reasoning is why I once viewed myself as a pro-life liberal, then a communitarian, then a neo-conservative. During those years, I watched in alarm as liberals rejected their historic fight to expand the definition of personhood. The progressive claim for moral superiority has become an empty shell.

For as long as they back regressive laws like Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act, they truly have moved to the wrong side of history. 

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812


Want to subscribe to the Barbershop? Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.


Leave a comment
  • This is more than just Women's Rights. This is about Religious rights. All these anti-abortion laws have one common theme to it. Its all passed by Christians who want nothing more than to force their religion onto anyone who isn't like them. If Roe vs Wade is repealed then say goodbye to the first amendment. Jews, Muslims, other religious groups and especially non-religious people will be forced to convert to Christianity turning this country into Saudi Arabia. I will not stand for it.

  • In reply to ChibiDannimon:

    Nonsense. Rant away, though.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ChibiDannimon:

    Prior to Roe v Wade, was there a theocracy that destroyed the First Amendment, Jews, Muslims, etc. and forced people to convert to Christianity?

  • fb_avatar

    If "A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State."- then any cause of action for wrongful death or bodily injury in birth defect, crime related, accident, malpractice, and personal injury cases have been eliminated. Do the lawyers know this source of income is being denied them ? I bet Pritzker and Madigan didn't think about that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Herbert Caplan:

    I wonder if this act repeals the state law against feticide where soneone who kills or injures the pregnant woman and kills her fetus can be charged under state law with wrongful death of a fetus?

Leave a comment