Why This Seemingly More Progressive Illinois Abortion Bill Won’t Change Much

We have some good news and some bad news for you, women. A new seemingly progressive Illinois abortion bill  says Catholic hospitals have to refer abortion seeking patients to providers they “reasonably believe” will provide the patient with the right to choose. The bill still needs to be signed, so there’s hope yet, because it’s an interesting compromise. At first, it may seem semi-OK that a Catholic hospital, that believes abortion is wrong because of the Bible, doesn’t have to do provide the service and can send women to other providers. But that gets tricky, especially because 30 percent of Illinois’ hospitals are run by Catholic organizations and the language of the bill doesn’t exactly require that they send women to actual providers.

The Illinois Catholic Health Association, according to Rewire, opposed earlier versions of the bill because giving a direct list of providers to patients would make them “complicit” in the act. Patrick Cacchione, the director of the Catholic Health Association told Rewire in an interview, “We will provide all the information you need, but we will not make a direct referral.” That’s why this new version doesn’t require the Catholic medical providers to confirm anything about their referrals.

The bill is all about Catholic providers not having to go against their “conscience,” but it really fucking sucks that states have to rely on hospitals run by religious groups in the first place. And it sucks that religious hospitals get to take away women’s right to choose. According to surveys, most women don’t really understand that when they walk into a medical facility that has “saint” in its name, that place might not have to do everything they need it to.

Once a procedure like abortion is able to be outsourced by someone who thinks pre-marital sex and gay marriage is a sin, it opens lots of doors for so much more bullshit. Take organ donation. Catholics are OK, under certain requirements, to donate organs. But not if it “delays the death of another.” Wait, what? Any organ donation would be to delay someone’s death — hell, drinking kale smoothies is supposed to delay death.

Maybe that’s taking it a step too far, but the world of American politics and religion gets scarier day by day. Anytime anyone wants to get literal, there’s room for things to get very messy. Much like this “reasonably believe” language in the bill. Technically, anyone could “reasonably believe” anything — they could “reasonably believe” the guy in the taco truck on the corner can perform abortions and send a woman for a quesadilla.

A list of referrals once you ask for an abortion adds time and money — think about how hard it is having a part time job or a shitty husband or being in school and making multiple doctors appointments, getting shamed, and then having to start over again. Luckily, Illinois does have some advocates for women’s health and reproductive rights.

This bill looks more progressive — but it’s not. It’s two steps back, just because it’s shady as hell.