Parental Notice of Abortion Laws Kill – Repeal PNA in Illinois Now!
We don’t expect you to know Karen and Bill Bell’s names. But after hearing their story, you will understand why we must repeal Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion law.
Karen and Bill want you to know that their daughter Becky Bell died because of Indiana’s cruel and dangerous mandated parental involvement law. Like so many Illinois parents and voters, the Bells had no idea that such a law even existed in their state. But then Becky died, alone, of a massive infection, from a self-induced abortion.
You don’t look into the eyes of Karen and Bill Bell, then easily forget the grief and loss of their only daughter.
The Republican anti-choice extremists want us to believe that Illinois’ PNA law is supposed to promote “family communication.” However, all it really does is harm, humiliate, terrify, and yes, steal the lives of young people.
You can read the letter the Bells sent to the Illinois General Assembly at the time of the original debate on PNA below. But first, we ask that you take action to help us repeal Illinois’ parental notice of abortion law today. The Bells will never get Becky back, but your State Senator and Representative can grant their deep desire to prevent other parents from living with the same tragic loss.
We need your help to protect reproductive rights for all people and make Illinois 100% pro-choice. Let’s #RepealPNA! Click here to take action.
Letter from William & Karen Bell, written on April 5, 1993
We understand that you are now considering adopting legislation that would restrict minor’s access to abortion services in the state of Illinois. We urge you to consider the tragic events that surrounded the death of our daughter Becky, in 1988.
Our names are Karen and William Bell and we reside in Indianapolis, Indiana with our 23-year-old son Bill.
We write this letter with mixed emotions: dreading to relive the death of our daughter, but also realizing a responsibility to others, that the punitive and restrictive laws that are being heard before you are understood by all. In writing and in theory these laws appear reasonable and safe. But in practice they are punitive and dangerous.
Our daughter Becky made a mistake and became pregnant. Parental consent laws dictated that in order to terminate her pregnancy she had to obtain our approval, petition the courts, or travel to another state that would allow her a safe clinical abortion, or seek back-alley assistance. She died of an illegal abortion.
In confiding with her best friend she said, “I don’t want to disappoint my mother and dad, I love them so much.”
Do not be fooled into thinking that a parental notification law is somehow less damaging than a parental consent law. In the eyes of a teenager, confronted with an unintended pregnancy there is no difference.
Knowing our daughter, we believe that Indiana’s judicial option was too intimidating, given her desperate emotional state. She would also have been faced with the prospect of appearing before a pro-life judge. Hardly a reasonable option considering the fact that she had decided to terminate her pregnancy. She chose the last option available to her, an illegal abortion.
Unfortunately, we have been unable to piece together all the circumstances and today we struggle with the question, why did our daughter have to endure such mental torture in making what turned out to be her final decision?
She was intelligent enough to pursue her options, yet we live with the pain of knowing our daughter was desperate and alone, and because of these punishing and restrictive laws, she further compounded her initial mistake with another, and paid for it with her life. Our daughter was a wonderful child. She was raised in a functional family environment and was encouraged to develop her own thinking and reasoning skills. Yet, in her time of crisis, others denied her legitimate options and the right to self-determination.
Had our daughter come to us, we would have counseled her, made her aware of all her options, the circumstances and the consequences, to the best of our ability. But I can state emphatically that the final decision would have been hers.
As it stands today, legislators, judges, self-appointed moralists, and parents are making the decisions for these young women, allowing little or no input from them. How can we legislate or dictate that families communicate? How can we dictate to people how they must act or react in a time of crisis?
We realize a great number of young women are going to their parents for counsel and for this we are grateful. Since the death of our daughter, we have counseled several young women and have been fortunate to get the parents involved. But what about the young woman who doesn’t want to disappoint her family?
If we understand correctly, the legislation before you offers no accommodation for a real life situation like that of a Becky Bell. Nor does it consider the young lady from a dysfunctional home who may fear for her physical well-being. These laws speak to theories and hypotheticals, they do not address real life circumstances taking place today. These punitive and restrictive laws being considered, if enacted, will serve to further isolate the young women of Illinois. In the interest of political gain and in the name of God, our daughter was punished.
Others took it upon themselves to decide my daughter’s fate, thus denying her a safe option and the best care. Their theories and political stance were placed ahead of and valued more than the life of my daughter.
These laws clearly denied her a safe and reasonable option. And because she had decided to terminate her pregnancy, she was forced into making a fatal mistake. Our beautiful Becky Bell died on September 16, 1988.
Becky’s death will count for something. She was somebody, somebody beautiful. We will not sit idly by and not speak to others that could face the same torment that the Bell family now lives with. Not as long as there are those who will go to any length to take away basic human rights.
We are not promoting abortion, far from it. But we are speaking out against those who want to punish, who suggest that we can reduce teenage pregnancy through legislation. We are speaking out against those who will simply not address the needs of birth control and sex education.
Sex among teenagers will not be regulated by legislation, nor will it be eliminated.
We are a family with broken hearts, and it is our desire that speaking out will in some way prevent others from living this same nightmare.
We urge you to consider real life situations and not punish the young women of Illinois.
Rebecca Suzanne Bell was not a theory, she was a beautiful human being. She was my daughter, taken away because others thought they had all of the answers. H.B. 1300 does not have all of the answers either and we urge you to defeat this legislation.
Karen Bell & William C. Bell
We must repeal Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion law. Take action now.