ACLU to protest Senger bill
Sun Staff March 22, 2011 5:40PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Members of the ACLU plan a protest in front of state Rep. Darlene Senger’s Naperville office Wednesday in response to what they call her attempt to “regulate abortion out of existence in this state.”
Senger sponsored a bill that would require abortion clinics to be retrofitted to resemble outpatient surgery centers, meaning equipment such as defibrillators and ventilators would be required and hallway and parking lot dimensions would change.
By a 13-0 vote, before a packed room of angry abortion rights supporters clad in “Women are not livestock” T-shirts and buttons emblazoned with a cow, the House Agricultural Committee advanced legislation that would put new financial burdens on abortion clinics.
The Agriculture Committee, stocked mainly by socially conservative Democrats and Republicans from downstate, has been the conduit to get gun-rights and anti-abortion legislation to the House floor for years.
“We ought to be calling ‘shame, shame, shame’ on Representative Senger and the members of the Agriculture Committee, who may have expertise in regulating muskrats and fertilizer and heifers and roadkill. But women, I respectfully submit, are not livestock,” Colleen Connell told the panel. Connell is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
Senger, whose bill now moves to the House floor, and two other legislators had bills targeting women’s access to abortions before the committee.
A second bill also passed, but the sponsor said the bill, which would require abortion clinic employees, even clerical staff, to report instances of child abuse, still needs revisions.
A third measure pushed by Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, would impose longer waiting periods on women seeking abortions and require them to view an ultrasound of the fetus one hour before an abortion is performed.
All three sponsors of the bills denied asking that their bills be sent to the Agriculture Committee and did not know who made the decision to put their bills before the panel, though all complimented House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, for giving their bills a chance to be heard.
“I don’t know,” said Senger, when asked why her abortion-clinic bill was in front of the farming committee. “These committees have been all over the place this time. I got some other bills in some crazy places right now, too.”
But House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, who chairs the House Rules Committee that assigns bills to committees, said rank-and-file legislators make the request as to where their bills go in the earliest stages of the legislative process.
The protest — called Women are not Livestock Rally for Choice — Naperville — will be held at noon in front of Senger’s Naperville office, 125 Water St.
“Over the past month, a number of bills designed to obstruct access to essential reproductive health care have been filed in the Illinois General Assembly,” ready an email received Tuesday afternoon from the ACLU. “Strangely, three of these bills were sent to be heard in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee — a committee that normally deals with grazing and water rights, livestock and hunting.
“Among the pieces of legislation approved by the Agriculture Committee was House Bill 3165 (sponsored by Senger) which seeks to regulate abortion out of existence in this state. On Wednesday, March 23, women and men from across the area will gather at state Rep. Darlene Senger’s Naperville office to call attention to this dangerous legislation.”