Abortion debate: What I saw in the House gallery

Lisa Misner —  June 4, 2019

gallery

The abortion debate has always been emotional, but in our culture today, emotion has overtaken fact. This was on display when the Illinois House debated SB 25, what its sponsors named the Reproductive Health Act, a bill which removes limits on late-term abortions, allows nurse practitioners to perform abortions, and requires insurance companies to cover the costs of abortions. I watched debate, and ultimately the vote, from the House gallery.

In the gallery one is told to remain silent, that photography is forbidden, and not to react after votes are taken. Across from me sat protestors dressed in scarlet costumes based on the book-turned-TV series “A Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. On the floor, one state representative who also boasted his title of pastor, spoke for the bill and the “rights” of women including his young daughters to “choose” what they will do with their bodies. Women in the gallery nodded their heads, and quietly said, “Yes.” An elderly lady sitting next to me whispered, “I’m so tired of those men telling us what to do with our bodies.”

Another representative shared a story about a woman who already had seven children and was so desperate that she resorted to a coat hanger abortion. That was in 1948. Did we want to return to those days? she asked rhetorically. “That’s right,” women in the gallery nodded quietly. No one would have considered my argument that birth control would prevent such extreme measures. Or abstinence. Or adoption.

Debate continued with more of the same. More “yes’s” and “that’s right’s” from the gallery until I heard myself quietly say, “No.” All heads in my little section quickly turned my way. The elderly lady sitting next to me got up and left. I could take it no more and had spoken. No one in the gallery near me commented on anything after that. Soon the vote was taken. Of course, the bill passed, and the gallery erupted into applause. The steward came rushing through telling everyone the gallery was not to express emotion at the result of the vote and it was over.

Lisa Misner

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Lisa is IBSA Director of Communications. A Missouri native, she earned a Master of Arts in Communications from the University of Illinois. Her writing has received awards from the Baptist Communicators Association and the Evangelical Press Association.

4 responses to Abortion debate: What I saw in the House gallery

  1. 

    We dare not be silent, but moments like these simply take breath & speech away. Dare we not rise up and simply call it what it is…SIN! We as Christians seem to surreptitiously ‘creep’ around the concept that acceptance of this practice grossly offends GOD & devalues HIS most precious gift…LIFE; in HIS most beloved Creation..the human. Because we often turn away numbed & feeling defenseless. But thankfully HIS Loves expands so beyond the intentional selfishness of this act! That’s why we must boldly speak out & allow HIS Love (in & through us), to be the most forceful demonstration of our rejection to this action taken by our Illinois Elected Officials.

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  2. 

    God for give us.

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  3. 

    I, too, was in the House Gallery for a portion of the debate. I, too, very quietly would say “no” or “that’s not true” under my breath as the lies just kept being released against life and for abortion. At one point, I could feel the pressure building within myself and thought I might actually stand up and cry out for the babies. What I did was to make myself get up and leave the House Gallery. I then called my Pastor/husband and we talked through the grief and anger which I was feeling.

    Thank you and bless you for your observations.

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  4. 

    Thank you for putting yourself in uncomfortable situations to give us a “birds eye view” of our Illinois government process.

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