Speak Out

Trump-Pence Gag Rule Blocks Women from Getting the Health Care They Need


By Paloma Arroyo
Planned Parenthood Illinois Action


The Trump-Pence administration is at it again.

They’re trying to block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood. However, the latest attack is much bigger than Planned Parenthood. This new rule would be radical departure from the way health care has operated in the United States up until now.

On Tuesday, May 22nd, at a reception for the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization known for their extreme anti-choice agenda, President Donald Trump announced he would be making changes to a decades-old federal family planning program, Title X. The changes are a gag rule. Period.

The gag rule would do four main things.

1. Impose new rules designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.

2. Prevent health care providers across the country — including doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers — from referring their patients for safe, legal abortion.

3. Remove the guarantee that patients get full and accurate information about their health care from their doctors.

4. Remove the requirement that contraception be medically approved and that providers ensure access to full range of birth control.

This is a direct attack on women’s basic rights.

Established in 1970, Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with low incomes access to comprehensive family planning. Title X ensures people have access to contraception and gives them more control over their lives, health, careers, and economic security.

In Illinois, there are 95 Title X sites, 17 of which are Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) health centers. While PPIL makes up only 18% of total Title X providers in the state, PPIL serves 42%, or 43,950, of Title X patients in Illinois. Blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood means that many of these people would go without care because Planned Parenthood is the only Title X health care provider in their community. In Illinois, there are six counties—LaSalle, Macon, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon, and Tazewell—where PPIL is the only Title X provider.

It gets much worse. Nationally, there are 4,000 Title X health centers, and this gag rule would block federal funding from going to any US health clinic that so much as mentions abortion as an option for women. This means that many community health centers, hospital-based clinics, and health departments would also be gagged from giving patients full and accurate information about all of their options.

This is detrimental for the state of Illinois.

If Planned Parenthood were excluded from Title X, all other types of Title X-funded sites in Illinois would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 73 percent to serve the women who currently obtain contraceptive care from Planned Parenthood health centers. For example, in DuPage County, PPIL’s Aurora Health Center serves 75% of patients that access contraceptive care from a publicly funded health center.

This gag rule would fall the hardest on people of color.

Because of systemic inequities, many patients who rely on Title X for their health care needs are people of color, who already face significant barriers to accessing health care. About 21 percent of Title X patients identify as Black or African American and 32 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino. After being blocked from these health centers, including Planned Parenthood, many patients would have nowhere else to go for care.

How can you fight back? 

The proposed rule was officially published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 1. The 60-day comment period is open now and will conclude on July 31.

1. Post a comment for HHS here
2. Text TITLEX to 22422
3. Share your Planned Parenthood story
4. Volunteer: email palomaa@ppil.org for opportunities to get involved
5. Social media: #NoGagRule #StandWithPP

Paloma Arroyo is a grassroots organizer with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, and Planned Parenthood Illinois PAC.



Important to Elect Dems Now More Than Ever


By Janice Podolski
ACE Health, Education, and Welfare Team Member


At first, I was numb, then simply depressed when I read about Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement.

We seem to be headed back to the 1950s, when wives were expected to have dinner on the table at five o’clock sharp when hubby walked in the door. Father read the paper after dinner, while the little woman cleaned up the kitchen and got the kids ready for bed.

There’s a good chance the Supreme Court will revisit Roe v. Wade if a Trump conservative justice is sworn in. Anti-choice groups have already gutted it in several states, and the president promised pro-life justices on the campaign trail.

When I grew up, I knew families with six to 12 children. Parents were happy if their children graduated from 8th grade and elated if they had a high school diploma. In fact, my father-in-law left school after 6th grade and was expected to help support his siblings as he was one of six kids. My mother-in-law was one of six children, too. Both of my parents graduated from high school, but both were one of five children. Guess they were fortunate.

Well, ladies, at least we have washing machines and dryers, so we don’t have to march down to the creek with our washboards and hang clothes on the lines in the backyard.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday on collective bargaining stated that “…government workers who choose not to join unions may not be required to help pay for collective bargaining,” according to the New York Times. That also hit home.

People today do not realize that most of the job-related benefits, such as healthcare, vacations, 15-minute breaks and a lunch break while working, and staffing rules were all hard-won victories by labor unions. When a union of hourly workers won a benefit, the company was often compelled to give it to their salaried staff, too.

It is also distressing to know that our President has a list of Supreme Court candidates that he was given during his campaign. Not sure who gave it to him, since I am sure he was clueless about what a SCOTUS candidate should look like on paper, but he said he is ready to start naming the next one as soon as possible.

But I intend to resist and persist. The 2018 midterm elections are next, plus lots of lobbying.  We have to clean out the Senate first, because they vote for the Supreme Court nominees, then the House.

Our work has just begun.

The cost of health insurance premiums escalate


By Beverly George, ACE Leader


Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post reported on May 14, 2018 that Virginia, Maryland, and Vermont have preliminarily announced premium-rate requests for Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual policies.

The breakout of their numbers shows Virginia coming in first place with insurance companies requesting a premium rise of 64.3%. But the weighted average for current enrollment looks like it will settle down to only 13.4%, according to health care analyst Charles Gaba.

Vermont says only one of its insurers requested an increase of 7.5%; the other was seeking a 10.9% average annual rate increase.

In Maryland, double-digit premium increases are typical too, with an average hike of 30%. One plan asked for a heart-stopping, no-more-need-for-insurance-ever 91.4% jump!

These numbers won’t be final, but they are symptomatic of what the Republican congress has initiated in their plan to quietly sabotage and kill off the ACA, not to mention the American voters who depend on it for their health care.


‘One plan asked for a heart-stopping, no-more-need-for-insurance-ever 91.4% jump!’


The Republicans pushed for and passed the repeal of the individual mandate in their GOP Tax Plan. As the number of younger, healthier people opted out of coverage, the number of individual market enrollees remaining decreased quickly, and these patients are sicker. Hence, the premiums have gone up significantly.

In addition, last fall, the Trump administration made it harder for new enrollees to find information and to enroll in a plan. They effectively shortened the enrollment time and reduced public outreach, advertising, and advice to assist new patients in joining.

Finally, the Trump administration has pushed hard for plans that do not include the many of the protections of the ACA, namely, coverage for pre-existing conditions, requisite coverage for prescription drugs, and mental health care. They push hard for short-term insurance plans and association health plans, both of which offer cheap, but extremely slim, coverage. They are, in effect, junk insurance plans, proposed in the name of giving consumers more choices.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “With the repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short-term plans, double-digit hikes are now likely.” This is “blatant public-policy malpractice,” but in spite of Democrats beating the drum on this issue, voters’ attention spans on health care are dwindling, and Republicans have no interest in triage for Americans’ health.

We all need to stay tuned and engage others in ongoing conversations on the issue of health care.


ACE Leader Beverly George also is a member of Indivisible, the Naperville League of Women Voters, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. She also volunteers with her parish PADS group. A former chemist, George worked in clinical chemistry and hematology research at the Centers for Disease Control for six years and taught chemistry and freshman science at Naperville North High School for 20 years.



The New Normal: Frequent Public Shootings


By Beverly George, ACE Leader


The news coming out of Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 was initially shocking to me, but shortly thereafter I just felt completely numb. This was the eighteenth shooting since January 1, 2018. That’s two or three per week.

I remembered back to the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, April 20, 1999, when fifteen were killed (twelve students, one teacher and the two student shooters who committed suicide) and twenty-one wounded. For me, that’s when my radar for these tragic events was turned on, probably because I was a teacher in a Naperville High School with a similar school profile to Columbine’s.

So why did I feel literally emotionally leaden on Wednesday? I did not even want to listen to the news reports because I knew I would hear this phrase repeated over and over: “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”


‘Our thoughts and prayers are with you.’


Sorry, but after so many shootings since Columbine, these are hollow, empty words. We cannot seem to rise up and DO something about the assault military weapons available to the general public!

  • We cannot require background checks on the sale of guns.
  • We cannot use the No Fly List as a basis to stop a gun sale.
  • We cannot ban bump stocks that ratchet up ordinary guns to perform like machine guns.
  • We cannot ban the sale of military assault weapons like the AR-15.
  • We cannot allow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to collect and study the crime data to study gun violence as a public health issue.
  • We cannot ban the sale of ammunition clips that deliver more than ten rounds.
  • On the other hand, in sympathy with the gun owners, legislators do try to pass a law to require silencers on guns because the constant noise damages the shooter’s hearing. (Imagine the death tolls if the shooter in Parkland or Las Vegas had had silencers on their weapons.)
  • And we need to oppose federal mandates for Concealed Carry Reciprocity, which would allow federal legislation to interfere with states’ rights and dictate to each state who can carry concealed weapons within their own state, according to the website for Everytown for Gun Safety.

There are some voices that argue it’s too late to change the laws because there are assault weapons already in circulation en masse, and if someone wants to kill, they will find a way, and we can’t ever eliminate all violence anyway.

To them, my friend Dr. Tatiana Prowell, a leading oncologist at Johns Hopkins, has the most eloquent response, on her Facebook page.

“If you think there won’t be one simple solution that fixes everything, you are totally correct. But guess what? We are probably never going to eliminate all cancer either, and there’s not ever going to be one simple solution to cancer either, and a whole bunch of my friends and I keep going to work and developing new medicines and designing clinical trials and treating your loved ones, and you all seem to think that makes sense.

Just because it will be hard doesn’t mean we stop trying. Just because we can’t save every life doesn’t mean we can’t save many.”

The American public, including many National Rifle Association (NRA) members, strongly favor better gun control laws. We don’t have to change the 2nd Amendment but we do need to put reasonable limitations on it in the form of gun legislation and extend the conversation to public health.

And yes, I believe it would make a difference because it’s made a difference in Australia and other western countries that allow gun ownership. Other countries don’t even come close to the awful statistics the U.S. holds for gun deaths.

The topic of assault weapons and common-sense gun laws will never come up as long as the NRA keeps funneling rivers of cash into the campaigns of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Richard Burr, and so many other legislators, including a few Democrats, who are elected and then work to protect the interests of their major donors, not their constituents.


‘President Donald Trump went to Parkland to address the grieving families and used mental health treatment as his outreach. This was his proposal to try to prevent future horrific events in schools. His carefully scripted speech did not include a word about gun control.’


President Donald Trump went to Parkland to address the grieving families and used mental health treatment as his outreach. This was his proposal to try to prevent future horrific events in schools. His carefully scripted speech did not include a word about gun control.

While the argument for better mental health treatment is sound, it’s woefully incomplete. Listening to the PBS News Hour this evening, one expert opined that if Nikolas Cruz had not been able to get into the school, if the building had been closed, he likely would have tried his assault at a public mall or another site frequented by the students. So improving mental health services in schools wouldn’t necessarily head off a shooting in a mall. The shooter in Las Vegas last year was not a high school or college student. But he had an arsenal of rapid-fire weapons in his hotel room and shot at a concert crowd like fish in a barrel. So why does he or any private citizen need an arsenal of assault weapons and a stockpile of ammunition? Why should any American have the right to own an arsenal of that magnitude? I would argue this type of weapon gluttony has absolutely nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.

Americans own 48% of all privately owned guns in the world. That was the closing statistic from the PBS News Hour last Thursday evening.

It’s been less than a week since the tragedy in Parkland, but the voices of reason are eloquent, loud, and clear, and they’re coming from the students who will have to live with this memory for the rest of their lives. The students are calling for sensible changes to gun laws, and they’re threatening their elected officials with removal from office if their legislative inertia continues.

The students will use the only weapon they have—the ballot box in November.

Enough is enough.

Most Americans want change. I hope we continue our directed grief and outrage to effect the long-overdue changes for greater security in our communities.





ACE Leader Beverly George also is a member of Indivisible, the Naperville League of Women Voters, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. She also volunteers with her parish PADS group. A former chemist, George worked in clinical chemistry and hematology research at the Centers for Disease Control for six years and taught chemistry and freshman science at Naperville North High School for 20 years.


To see how your senator or representative voted on proposed gun safety legislation, click here.


Voting for Judges: It Can Be a Matter of Life and Death


By Anne Swanson, ACE Federal and State Budgets Team Leader

How do you vote for judges? Look at the names and pick someone who sounds good? Do you ever think to ask friends who might be lawyers their opinions about the judges before the election?

Researching the judicial candidates is the same no matter what circuit you are in. I am writing from the perspective of the 18th Judicial Circuit, which is a single county circuit, in DuPage County.

Here are some guidelines on how to research your judicial candidates.

What’s the difference between an associate judge and a full circuit judge?

Both associate and full circuit judges sit on the bench and conduct the business of the courtroom from motions to trials. Associate judges are appointed by the circuit judges. Circuit judges may hear any case assigned to them by the Chief Judge. Associate judges may not preside over criminal cases in which the defendant is charged with an offense punishable by imprisonment for one year or more (felonies).

Who’s elected?

Supreme court, appellate court, and circuit judges are elected. The circuit judges elect one judge from among them to be the Chief Judge of the circuit. Elected judges may seek to retain their position. When you see a name in parentheses for a judicial position, it is the name of the judge whose position is being filled. That judge is leaving that position.

How to research a judge’s record

The best place to research those running for judge is the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) website. The ISBA provides public information about the qualifications of judicial candidates and judges seeking retention. This year, the evaluations will be available after February 23. Here is a portion of what the ISBA website explains.

Judicial vacancies  

The office of a judge is vacant upon death, resignation, retirement, removal, or upon conclusion of their term without retention in office. Supreme and Appellate Court judges are elected by voters in their Judicial District. Circuit Court judges are elected by voters in their Judicial Circuit or county. Supreme and Appellate Court judges serve ten-year terms, while Circuit Court judges serve six-year terms. At the end of their term, each are required to file for retention to serve longer.

Voting for judicial retention 

At the end of the term of Supreme, Appellate, and Circuit judges, each may file a declaration of candidacy to succeed themselves. The names of the judges seeking retention are submitted to eligible voters in the appropriate Supreme and Appellate Court Districts and in the appropriate Judicial Circuits or counties for retention of Circuit judges. Judges seeking retention are listed on the ballot separately and without party designation. Voters are asked the sole question of whether each judge should be retained in office for another term. An affirmative vote of three-fifths (60%) of the electors voting on the question elects the judge to the office for another term.

Judicial evaluations

Candidates who are seeking election to Appellate or Supreme Court judicial vacancies and judges seeking retention to their Appellate or Supreme Court positions are reviewed in a comprehensive evaluation process called Judicial Evaluations. This involves a detailed background investigation by members of the ISBA Judicial Evaluations Committee, followed by an in-person interview of the candidate or judge. The committee then decides how to rate the candidate or judge. Ratings for candidates seeking election to the Appellate or Supreme Court are rated Qualified, Highly Qualified, or Not Qualified. Judges seeking retention are rated Recommended or Not Recommended. The Judicial Evaluations Ratings express the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association.

In counties outside of Cook, ISBA conducts an advisory poll. The poll is conducted by mail and is sent to all ISBA members in the circuit or district from which a candidate seeks election or a judge seeks retention. Licensed attorneys who are not members of ISBA, or any attorney outside the circuit or district, may also request a ballot. Participants of the poll are asked to evaluate each candidate only if they have professional knowledge of the candidate(s) that enables them to make an informed evaluation. Ballots are confidential and returned inside a ballot envelope, which is mailed in a teller envelope. A certification slip stating that the participant read and understood the instructions of the poll is signed for the ballot to be counted.

Candidates and judges are rated “recommended” or “not recommended” based on whether respondents agree that the candidate “meets acceptable requirements for the office.” Those receiving 65 percent or more “yes” responses to that question are rated “recommended,” and those receiving less than 65 percent are rated “not recommended.” Opinions expressed in the poll are of those attorneys who chose to respond and do not reflect the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association or the opinion of all Illinois attorneys.

Following are the questions asked on the poll. Please note that questions on “Temperament and Court Management” differ for those seeking a judicial vacancy and those seeking retention. Clarification of those differences are noted below.

Meets Requirements of Office

(Recommendation) Considering the qualifications of the candidate, do you believe this candidate meets acceptable requirements for the office?


Adhere to the high standards of integrity and ethical conduct required of the office?


Act and rule impartially and free of any predisposition or improper influence?

Legal Ability

Have adequate legal experience, knowledge, and ability?


for a judicial vacancy:
 Exercise appropriate temperament with courtesy, consideration, firmness, fairness, patience, and dignity?

for judicial retention:
 Exercise the judicial temperament to serve with appropriate courtesy, consideration, firmness, fairness, patience, and dignity?

Court Management

for a judicial vacancy:
 Attends to all professional responsibilities including the management of cases/clients, and completes work in a prompt and skillful manner?

for judicial retention:
 Diligently and promptly attends to the duties of the office and assures the steady progress of court business?


Have the physical, mental and emotional health, stamina, and stability needed to perform judicial duties?

Sensitivity to Diversity and Bias

Conducts self and deals with others appropriately to reduce or eliminate conduct or words which manifest bias based on race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status against parties, witnesses, counsel or others?

As in any election, it is important to do your homework. Judges do matter. Sometimes it can be a matter of life or death.



Information taken from the Illinois State Constitution and the Illinois State Bar Association website.


**3/2/18: The DuPage County Bar Association has released it’s judicial recommendations. Click here to read about the 2018 candidates.**


ACE Federal and State Budgets Team Leader Anne Swanson practiced law in DuPage County for 25 years. She also served as the DuPage County Arbitration Administrator.  She is now retired and is happily selling books at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville.