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Opinion: Abortion referral bill threatens basic health services

Pro-life activists demonstrate on the steps of the United States Supreme Court on June 27 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Modern day super heroes don’t wear tight jump suits and capes. They wear scrubs.

Every day, nurses save lives, flash a smile, and do it all over again tomorrow.

But no gratitude was found within the Winnebago County Board when they forced pediatric nurse Sandra Mendoza to resign after 18 years. A policy shift added providing abortion referrals and processing prescriptions for abortion inducing drugs to Ms. Mendoza’s job responsibilities. When she alerted county officials she could not ethically participate in an abortion, she was forced to resign, losing her livelihood to support her family. (Ms. Mendoza is now suing Winnebago County).


More devout nurses and doctors like Ms. Mendoza could be forced out of the health care industry for abiding by their personal ethics if Gov. Bruce Rauner fails to veto Senate Bill 1564.

This bill would force every medical professional and pregnancy resource center to help a woman obtain an abortion by providing her contact information for abortion clinics and describing the “benefits” of abortion.

According to the Heritage Foundation, by 2030, Illinois will have a shortage of an estimated 18,240 nurses and 1,063 physicians, meaning longer wait times, higher costs, and poorer quality of health care for Illinoisans.

“Half of all graduating medical residents or fellows trained in Illinois leave the state to practice medicine elsewhere …” says a 2010 study conducted by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Illinois will face a critical doctor shortage – especially in rural areas – if new strategies aren’t adopted to stem the exodus.”

When 2,865 faith-based health care professionals were surveyed, 91 percent of them stated they agreed with the following statement: “I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than to be forced to violate my conscience.”

We can’t afford to drive good medical professionals out of Illinois simply because they decline to participate in abortion.

In the age of Google and smart phones, it is lost on us how S.B. 1564 would provide any benefit to women. It’s even incredulous to think women aren’t intelligent enough to find an abortion clinic unless they receive assistance.

Instead, this bill put thousands of Illinois women at risk to lose access to basic healthcare services that they receive from pregnancy resource centers such as free STD and pregnancy testing, free ultrasounds, free counseling, free sex education, free parenting classes, free pre-natal classes, free material support, and more.

There are over 100 pregnancy resource centers in Illinois with the mission to empower women with alternative choices to abortion. S.B.1564 would shutdown these pregnancy resource centers in Illinois that are run entirely off of private donations from their community.

In 2010, the 2,500 pregnancy resource centers across the country saved the government over $100 million dollars with their services. Forcing pregnancy resource centers out of Illinois reduces healthcare choices and further adds to the financial burden Illinois is facing.

In a bipartisan letter, Illinois congressional leaders even warned that S.B. 1564 violates federal law and could cause Illinois to lose federal funding.

Is this the best the General Assembly could do? Send Gov. Rauner a bill that would create a more hostile health care industry, add to the health care crisis, reduce women’s access to basic health care, and jeopardize Illinois’ federal funding?

Rauner should veto this bill to help stop the mass exodus of super heroes from our health care profession.

Dr. Colleen Malloy is associate professor of Neonatology/Department of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Emily Zender is executive director of the Illinois Right to Life.