Rauner signs controversial abortion legislation – Government News

on Sep28

28 September 2017 | 6:00 pm

In an action with major implications for his re-election race, Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced he has signed into law a bill that guarantees abortion rights in the state and authorizes insurance coverage for the procedure.

The hotly debated measure, which drew comments from everyone from Cardinal Blase Cupich to major women’s groups, pitted Rauner’s past pro-choice stance against much of his Republican Party, which is mostly anti-abortion. But instead of seeking a compromise via an amendatory veto—as had been rumored—Rauner decided to sign as is a measure that largely was pushed through the General Assembly by majority Democrats.

In a Thompson Center press conference, the governor, speaking in very low and soft tones, described the debate as emotional and passionate. “I’ve tried to find common ground on this issue. We were unable to do that,” he concluded.

“The moral argument against (the bill) is very powerful. I respect it very much,” he said. However, “a woman must have the right to decide what goes on in her body,” and the ability to choose the abortion option “should not be determined by income. I do not think it’s fair to deny poor women the choice that wealthy women have. That is why I am signing HB 40.”

His bottom line: “I am pro-choice. I always have been.”

HB 40 aims to protect abortion rights in Illinois should the U.S. Supreme Court strike down or change Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal in the U.S. It also expands Medicaid services to include abortion by preventing insurers from denying coverage to low-income women and state workers on the Illinois health insurance plan.

As Rauner prepares to seek re-election, this bill put the Republican chief in a tough spot between pro-choice suburban women and pro-life downstate voters. Rauner previously vowed to veto HB 40. But while campaigning, he promised to expand Medicaid to include abortion services. He previously signed a controversial pro-choice law that requires pro-life pregnancy resource centers to effectively refer women for abortion.

HB 40 became a sticking point in Illinois in April, after President Donald Trump signed legislation that allows states to withhold federal dollars from organizations that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. That month, Rauner and wife Diana Rauner donated $50,000 to a Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ fundraiser. HB 40 also gained momentum after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a Texas law that limited women’s access to abortion.

Illinois has become an oasis for women who live in neighboring states to receive abortions—the Midwest has some of the toughest regulations surrounding women’s access to abortion in the nation. The majority of out-of-staters who head to Illinois for abortions come from Indiana, home of Vice President Mike Pence.

The press corps was quick to tweet reaction to the decision during the governor’s press conference:

Update— Lots of reaction is coming in, with those on the losing, pro-life side particularly vehement, as in a statement from The Illinois Opportunity project, headed by Dan Proft and Pat Hughes.

“Gov. Rauner has mandated taxpayer funding of abortions at any time, for any reason. He additionally signed a law to make Illinois a sanctuary state. Do those initiatives sound like the priorities of a governor with ‘no social agenda?’” the group said in a statement attributed to Hughes. “They sound like the priorities of a social justice warrior. No conservative reform governor has ever done so much for the liberal agenda. The Illinois GOP needs to condemn the man and the bill with the tenacity and urgency with which they would oppose any other pro-choice, big government Democrat. We have been complicit for far too long.”

Even more eyebrow raising were comments from Tim Schneider, who Rauner hand-picked to be chair of the Illinois Republican Party.

“I am disappointed in the Governor’s decision to sign HB40 as the Illinois Republican Party opposes taxpayer-funded abortions,” he said in a statement. “While I am frustrated and saddened, I also know that Speaker Madigan and the Democrats are trying to use this issue to divide our party and elect a Madigan-backed candidate for governor . . . There is no daylight between Governor Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party and we will continue working hard to ensure his reelection and finally defeat Mike Madigan once and for all.”

But the main sponsor of the bill, North Side Democratic Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, said she is “grateful that Governor Rauner has finally realized how important this legislation is to women in the current political climate.”



Previous postAbbott gets OK for 1st blood sugar monitor without finger pricks Next postTrevathan Could Face League Discipline After Brutal Hit on Adams


Chicago Financial Times


Copyright © 2020 Chicago Financial Times

Updates via RSS
or Email