Planned Parenthood, the nation’s number one abortion provider, has been having a series of “Community Forums” across Illinois to promote Illionis HB2354, the Reproductive Health and Access Act (RHAA).
This bill is essentially the Illinois version of the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). Earlier in February, the Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood was able to scuttle one of these meetings in Aurora.
Around that same time, the Pro-Life Action League received word that Planned Parenthood would be hosting two similar events in Rock Island, Illinois taking place February 15 and 25.
Since I used to attend Augustana College near there, I immediately sounded the alarm to all of my pro-life contacts in the Quad Cities. Despite having only a few days notice—and bad weather—they mobilized a group to stand in front of Java handing out flyers explaining why the RJAA is a bad piece of legislation. Jeanne Wonio, coordinator of the Bettendorf 40 Days for Life vigil and a devoted sidewalk counselor, spoke to Theo, the owner of Java, urging him to not allow his coffee shop to be the site of this event. Unfortunately Theo, despite his Catholic roots, wouldn’t tell Planned Parenthood to host their event elsewhere. But Planned Parenthood didn’t even show up that night. So there were no letters written in support of RJAA. Instead, Lorrie Bowman, president of Quad City Right to Life, wrote a letter to the editor against the RJAA, which was published in the local paper the day before their second event was scheduled. In fact, Cathy Bein of Quad City Right to Life called the League on the afternoon of the 24th. Illinois State Representative Pat Verschoore, who the letter pointed out was a sponsor of RJAA, had called their office to complain. His office had gotten a number of phone calls from people angry at his sponsorship of this awful piece of legislation! Despite their no-show the first time, we found out that Planned Parenthood was still planning to host the second event on Wednesday, February 25—Ash Wednesday. I drove out to the Quad Cities to lend a hand to the efforts and to bring some of our favorite signs to the protest—”Planned Parenthood lies to you;” “Planned Parenthood kills babies;” and “Stop abortion now.” Our flyer was modified to show the new name and number of the RJAA, which has a new name for the new legislative session. The RJAA is now the “Reproductive Health and Access Act” (RHAA, HB 2354). It’s still the same awful bill, though. Six of us gathered in front of Java—one woman even missed Mass on Ash Wednesday for the first time in her life in order to protest Planned Parenthood’s actions. As usual, the pro-lifers outnumbered the pro-aborts, even though we had to stand outside in the cold! A group of three Planned Parenthood staffers arrived around 5:30. One woman joined them later in the evening. But no students showed up and they chatted with very few people in the coffee shop. On the other hand, those of us outside passed out a number of flyers and spoke to the majority of Java’s patrons as they were entering or exiting. We had a very lengthy, stimulating discussion with several Augustana students on a variety of life issues. Overall the event was a success. Thanks to Quad City Right to Life for their help with this event, for the pro-lifers who called Representative Boland in outrage at this bill, and to the faithful pro-lifers who showed up to protest.