CHICAGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - Dr. Brook Bello, a sex-trafficking survivor and pro-life advocate, is urging Illinois lawmakers to place girls' safety above appeals from the abortion industry to enable sex predators.
A video link featuring Dr. Bello that was sent to state legislators on Tuesday calls on them to reject HB 1797 and SB 2190. The pro-death bills would repeal Illinois' Parental Notice of Abortion Act (Act), which has been law since 1995 and enforced since 2013. The Act requires that a parent or legal guardian be notified when a child under the age of 18 seeks an abortion.
State Rep. Anna Moeller and Sen. Elgie Sims, both Democrats, introduced the bills in their respective chambers.
Raped at age 11 and trafficked at 13, Dr. Bello shared the video with lawmakers to link abortion and abortion clinics to human trafficking as well as share her heartbreaking story of surviving multiple abortions while being trafficked.
She recalled, "Our traffickers made us get abortions. Had my parents been notified," she said, "my mother would have known what city I was in and on what street I was and contacted law enforcement."
Bello said that as a married woman she suffered multiple miscarriages and other health issues as a result of the endometriosis caused by the abortions. Tragically, she is now unable to have children later in life. She said that if her mother had been notified in advance, she might have been preserved from a life of sex work and sterility.
Dr. Bello explains her traumatic past, which inspires her opposition to the abortion secrecy bills.
A black woman selected as a Google Next Gen Policy Leader and founder of the anti-trafficking organization More Too Life, Bello is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from President Barack Obama.
Bello views parental involvement as essential to help minors avoid sex trafficking. Her group provides counseling to survivors and trains others to recognize and combat human trafficking.
In her video, Bello wondered why anyone would keep abortion "such a profound secret" from parents when doing so can "affect the life and womb health throughout that child's life."
"The reason I am pro-life," Bello shared, "is that I understand the beauty and sanctity of life. And so, I beg you, I plead of you, Illinois, to not reverse and to please notify parents. I think every state should notify parents. Why keep something secret that affects the rest of someone's life?"
Many young people, she added, are afraid to tell their parents.
While Illinois legislators want to change the law to prevent parental notification of abortions, most voters reject doing so. According to a poll by the Virginia-based Tarrance Group, 72% of state voters prefer parents or guardians be notified when a minor girl is seeking an abortion. Conducted March 7–10, 600 voters registered in Illinois responded to the poll, which claimed a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1%.
Attorney Mary FioRito, speaking for Parents for the Protection of Girls while referencing the poll in a news release related, "Even 58% of voters that self-describe as 'pro-choice' wish to see the law retained. Support is higher among voters in minority communities, with more than three out of four people of color favoring parental notice."
The powerful pro-abortion American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign and Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health are among the organizations demanding repeal of the notification law.
According to Save Parental Notification, a coalition that includes the archdiocese of Chicago and various pro-life organizations, the bills now before the Illinois Legislature would dismantle protections for minor girls, usurp parental authority and enable predators.
"The passage of HB 1797 and SB 2190 will allow sexual predators to cover up their crimes against minors without fear of repercussions," the coalition said.
Although the Illinois Supreme Court and ultimately the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled as constitutional the parental notification law protecting minors, the current law has loopholes that limit its protection for minors. It does not require parental consent — a stronger safeguard than parental notification —and offers two waivers. The first allows a minor not wishing to inform parents to obtain a court's agreement. The second allows any minor attesting to physical or sexual abuse by an adult family member to also obtain a waiver.
In an April 14 conversation with Church Militant, Ralph Rivera of Illinois Right to Life said various court challenges had delayed enforcement of the Parental Notification of Abortion Act until 2013 when it was affirmed by the federal appeals court. Since then, Rivera said, the parents of at least 1,000 girls per year were notified that minors were contemplating abortion, thus saving many babies from death because of the notification law.
With a Democrat majority in both chambers of the state legislature, Rivera expects a very close vote within the next two weeks.
"All we need is just one or two votes to tip the scale," said Rivera, noting that previous pro-life bills have passed with similar margins.
Rivera pleaded with pro-life voters and voters who may not be pro-life but who see the need for parental involvement in something so life-changing as abortion to call on their legislators to see reason and vote against HB 1797 and SB 2190.
Rivera likewise called on Illinois voters to call on their legislator to also oppose another anti-life bill, HB 1736, which was introduced by Democrat House member Kathleen Willis. Dubbed "Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children's Health (REACH)," the bill would amend state law to mandate sex education in K-12 public schools.
The declared purpose of the bill is to foster "personal health" to "encourage better sexual health outcomes, reduce stigmas and prepare young people to lead healthy and fulfilling lives." But it would further require the schools to provide "health-positive instruction on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression" and employ "effective use of contraception."
Rivera said that parents who oppose the exposure of children to the LGBTQ agenda and sexual practices that are at odds with Catholic Church teaching should make their voices heard before May 31, the end of the legislative session.