Illinois Republican governor signs bill permitting public funding of abortion procedures

Illinois Republican governor signs bill permitting public funding of abortion procedures
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a controversial bill Thursday permitting the use of Medicaid funds for elective abortion procedures. (2015 file photo/Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Ill.) signed a bill Thursday expanding public funding for abortion procedures in Illinois after previously expressing opposition to such a measure, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

What will the bill do?

According to WLS-TV, the bill, HB 40, permits state employee health insurance plans to cover elective abortions as well as Medicaid. The bill also has language indicating that the state intends to keep abortion procedures legal in Illinois if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Why did he sign it?

According to WRSP-TV, in a statement announcing his decision, Rauner said, “I understand abortion is a very emotional issue with passionate opinions on both sides.”

“I sincerely respect those who believe abortion is morally wrong. They are good people motivated by principle,” Rauner said. “But, as I have always said, I believe a woman should have the right to make that choice herself and I do not believe that choice should be determined by income. I do not think it’s fair to deny poor women the choice that wealthy women have.”

Was Rauner’s decision a reversal?

The Sun-Times reported that in April, Rauner, who is pro-choice, said he didn’t support the bill due to “sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion.”

Pro-choice groups launched a campaign to change Rauner’s mind, pointing to a 2014 statement he made indicating his support for Medicaid funding for abortion. Last week, he acknowledged that he was meeting with advocates on “both sides” of the issue.

What are they saying?

Lorie Chaiten, the director of the Reproductive Rights Project at the ACLU of Illinois, said in a statement provided to WRSP that the organization “enthusiastically applauds” Rauner for signing the bill.

State Rep. David McSweeney (R) told Chicago radio station WBEZ-FM that Rauner “is a failed governor who lied to the people of Illinois.”

“On April 14th, he announced that he would veto HB 40,” McSweeney said. “Rauner looked the other way on the 32 percent increase in the income tax rate, made Illinois a sanctuary state, and is primarily responsible for Illinois’ $16 billion backlog of unpaid bills.”

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