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GUEST OPINION: Universal Mental Health Screenings: A Call to Rally

By Penny Pullen, former state rep and President of Eagle Forum of IL.

OPINION — A recent letter-to-the-editor writer first asked how such an invasive law as Illinois’ new universal mental health screening atrocity could be passed, and then answered, essentially, that anything can pass any time if it’s characterized as being “for children.”

This may be true today, sad to say, but once upon a time, it was not. And so, I’m not so sure it is true.

Time and again, during the 16 years I was a state representative, sheeply-dressed wolfish legislation was defeated.

(Mandatory “parenting education” comes to mind, for example … defeated over and over until its sponsor finally left office.)

Indeed, when I first learned of this legislation last week — to my horror — my first reaction was to wonder where all the “good guys” must have been when this was going on. It should not take 50,000 phone calls from “back home” to block such an obvious invasion of family life … even in a legislature which is dominated by the more liberal of the two parties. A vigilant and active citizenry is helpful and even necessary, no doubt about it. But where are the pro-family spokesmen within the legislature? How could the Senate, where noted, veteran conservatives serve, have let this go through without a single opposing vote? Were the new conservatives in the House whom I’ve heard such good things about sleeping when this abomination attracted only five negative votes there?

Now that our leaders have let us down, the families of Illinois must speak out about this thing and demand that it be repealed before it can actually damage anything more than the reputations of our “good guys” in Springfield.

Citizens who live in districts whose representatives and senators prize their pro-family reputations should be contacting them right now to respectfully request that they undo what their apparent inattention has wrought.

It is possible; I recall a time when a bill sneaked through to legalize the possession of machine guns (in limited, controlled circumstances) in Illinois. When it was discovered by the media, legislators in Springfield rushed to repeal it at the first opportunity. Though conventional media no doubt will yawn over the issues inherent in the mental health screening law (will parents who refuse to let their children be put on Ritalin, for example, be declared neglectful and forced to comply?), citizens can raise their voices to their own legislators, and unconventional media (like IllinoisLeader.com) can raise quite a ruckus (thank you!).

So I urge your readers to take this on as a crusade. Do not be disheartened by the lack of stewardship this law’s passage has exposed. Instead, look on this episode as a rallying cause for taking back government. The critical thing is to rise up now, when the enormity of this has first come to light and before the psych teams, social workers and bureaucrats have been hired.

[Penny Pullen is the state president of Eagle Forum of Illinois and a former Illinois state representative]

What are your thoughts concerning the issues raised in this commentary? Write a letter to the editor at letters@illinoisleader.com, and include your name and town