Ill. Governor Signs Bill Providing Taxpayer-Funded Coverage for Abortions

The official portrait of Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois who was elected in 2014.
The official portrait of Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois who was elected in 2014. |  

Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law that expands taxpayer-funding of medical assistance to include abortions.

Rauner signed House Bill 40 into law on Thursday, saying in a statement that he has always been pro-choice and thus signed the bill "to be consistent with my values."

Elected under the campaign promise to be neutral on social issues, Rauner stated earlier this year that he had intended to veto HB 40 due to its provision expanding taxpayer funding of abortions, labeling the measure "too controversial."

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"I support [legal abortion]. I want to protect that. But the bill goes further and expands taxpayer funding in a way that only two other states have. That's very divisive," stated Rauner back in May.

As he signed the bill into law this week, however, he said he believes "that no woman should be forced to make a different decision than another woman would make purely based on her income," according to the Chicago Tribune.

"I believe that a woman living with limited financial means should not be put in the position where she has to choose something different than a woman of higher income would be able to choose."

Introduced last December and passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature in May, HB 40 rolls back several state restrictions on medical coverage for abortion.

"Removes a provision prohibiting the non-contributory portion of a program of health-benefits from including the expenses of obtaining an abortion," reads the bill's official synopsis.

"Removes a provision excluding abortions or induced miscarriages or premature births from the list of services provided under the State's medical assistance program."

The legislation also strikes "language concerning the General Assembly's declaration that the unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes of the unborn child's right to life."

Many conservatives view Rauner's decision to sign the bill as an act of betrayal, with Politico reporting that even before the bill signing Rauner was "considered the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the country."

"No serious conservative of any type can consider ever voting for Bruce Rauner again," stated Paul Caprio, director of Family-Pac, as quoted by Politico.

"Bruce Rauner today declared war on the pro-family movement, Illinois taxpayers, and the most basic values of the Republican party."

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