Looking at the recent election results during the Illinois primary in March, you'd be hard-pressed to find any good news for pro-life voters. In at least three major statewide races – Governor, Treasurer, and Comptroller – both major parties nominated pro-abortion candidates for the office. Worse, both U.S. Senators from Illinois – Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Dick Durbin – are vehemently pro-abortion and gloat about getting 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood. So why is Catholic Citizens of Illinois reporting good news for Illinois pro-lifers this week?
For starters, the Illinois Federation for Right to Life hosted a recent pro-life dinner headlined by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The event was a smashing success, and a number of high profile Illinois politicians in both parties attended, including State Rep. Tom Morrison, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Congressman Roskam's wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Roskam (Congressman Roskam would have liked to attend but was working in Washington at the time), Congressman Lipiniski's wife, Mrs. Judy Lipinski (same situation with Congressman Lipinski), and State Representative nominees Peter Breen and Heidi Holan, both of whom are favored to win their respective races. Former Illinois Senate Candidate Doug Truax and his wife were also in attendance – with Mr. Truax considered a rising star in Illinois politics after an unexpectedly strong showing in the primary election against seasoned candidate Jim Oberweis, who is also pro-life.
Illinois Right to Life celebrated 45 years at the dinner, but its clear for pro-lifers to have an impact in November, we will have to do things differently and work harder to change hearts and minds in Illinois. Part of that effort involves controlling the very language we use in our society. Pro-abortion groups like to disguise their agenda by using terminology that means the exact opposite of what they are promoting – like using buzz words such as “reproductive rights”, when they're actually arguing against reproduction. One of the things pro-lifers have done to counter this is beat the pro-abortion groups at their own game, and a number of pro-life organizations have sprung up in Illinois that sound like “pro-choice” groups. A good example of this is Women’s Choice Services, an outstanding pro-life service that ministers to women facing unexpected pregnancies.
When it comes to the November elections, we also have to work harder to educate church-going Catholics about which candidates are pro-life and pro-family. Many candidates that profess to be “good practicing Catholics” are anything but. We also have to deal with the cards we were dealt. While there are many pro-abortion candidates slated by both parties, there are also numerous pro-life candidates running in Illinois, and they have a strong opportunity this year to defeat pro-abortion candidates because of the backlash against Obamcacare, and President Obama's unfavorable levels in his sixth year in office. A good example is former Congressman Bobby Schilling, who is running to take back his old seat in western Illinois, and has an opponent who strongly supported Obamacare.
Emily Zender, who is the current executive director for Illinois Right to Life, outlined some of their goals in November and part of the organization's re-branding effort. Even in the midst of unfortunate circumstances, there are opportunities. For example, pro-abortion Republican nominee for Governor, Bruce Rauner, snubbed an invite to the Illinois Right to Life dinner so he could instead attend an event to honor the ACLU. But at the same time, the current chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Jack Dorgan, announced he was stepping down as Chairman to work for Rauner's campaign. This gives traditional values Catholics an opportunity to replace Dorgan with a much stronger pro-life and pro-family ally who will work with us in November.
In short, while Illinois is overwhelmingly controlled by pro-abortion politicians at the moment, the tide may be turning in the future. Let's play our cards right!