Kathy Ryg

Former Illinois state legislator, mother of 4 and grandmother of 8, Catholic

Vernon Hills, Illinois

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Politics, as you see it played out in a TV drama, is certainly riveting stuff. You can admire it for the art of compromise, be rendered breathless at its Machiavellian twists and turns or be flabbergasted and annoyed by its calculated positioning. As a former state representative in the state of Illinois, I saw this play out from a front-row seat. For all I experienced, I never forgot that politics is about trying to do the right thing: Without that, it becomes something that is futile, self-serving and meaningless.

Stepping up and doing the right thing is tough for all of us, but it is equally important for elected officials and citizens. I believe that when it comes to abortion we are called to stand with those in need. I was fortunate to have been taught by priests and nuns at Catholic schools, where we were always reminded that decisions one makes must always be grounded in personal conscience informed by faith. That message remains with me as I struggle with a Catholic hierarchy that fails to acknowledge that a decision to have an abortion is not made lightly and can be made in good faith. A woman’s decision to have an abortion must not be a litmus test of her faith or Catholicism.

“I know firsthand that today’s elected officials need to hear your voice so they do the right thing, ensuring that women who are not well off are not financially burdened by the choices they make.”

I believe it is also wrong for elected leaders to use their power to limit a woman’s right to reproductive health choices, including abortion. As a former elected official, I know that, tragically, some of the decisions made by government leaders are based on political priorities rather than the needs of the people. Respect and kindness, charity and love for all are such basic tenets of being a Catholic that it strikes me as hypocritical and mean-spirited to discriminate against women in poverty when it comes to abortion access. I, like many women, vividly recall a time when I thought I might be unintentionally pregnant. I remember well the mental anguish I suffered about what I would do. Fortunately, I did not have to worry about access or affordability should I have needed an abortion, and I can’t even imagine adding that complication to an already complex emotional situation.

I support public funding for abortion access. I know firsthand that today’s elected officials need to hear your voice so they do the right thing, ensuring that women who are not well off are not financially burdened by the choices they make. Abortion is healthcare. Stand with me in this campaign—our politicians need to know you care and expect them to care too.

Stand up with Kathy

By taking the pledge, I invite Catholics for Choice to email me with additional ways to get involved.