SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Republican governor of Illinois has signed a bill that will now allow Medicaid funds to be used to cover elective abortions.
H.B. 40 also allows state employee insurance plans to provide coverage for mothers who wish to end their unborn child’s life, and would ensure abortion remains legal in the state should the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturn Roe v. Wade.
It strikes from the existing law—among other portions—language that states, “[N]othing in this Act shall be construed to permit … the non-contributory portion of any such program to include the expenses of obtaining an abortion, induced miscarriage or induced premature birth unless, in the opinion of a physician, such procedures are necessary for the preservation of the life of the woman seeking such treatment, or except an induced premature birth intended to produce a live viable child and such procedure is necessary for the health of the mother or the unborn child.”
While Gov. Bruce Rauner had expressed disapproval of the bill earlier this year due to the “sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion,” he ultimately decided to sign it.
“I understand abortion is a very emotional issue with passionate opinions on both sides. I sincerely respect those who believe abortion is morally wrong,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“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,” Rauner added. “I do not think it’s fair to deny poor women the choice that wealthy women have.”
The bill passed along party lines 62-55 in the House in April and 33-22 in the Senate in May. Lawmakers postponed sending the bill to Rauner out of concern that he might veto the measure.
Rauner’s decision to sign H.B. 40 has disappointed pro-life groups in the state.
“This is the same man who during the gubernatorial campaign told IFA that he believes life begins at conception. Claiming that life begins at conception and then defending a moral right of others to have innocent human lives killed constitutes a morally incoherent and repugnant position. Compelling taxpayers to subsidize morally repugnant acts is evil,” lamented Laurie Higgins of Illinois Family Action.
“It is estimated that his decision will result in an additional 12,000 womb-killings every year at a cost to taxpayers of between $1.8 million to $21 million,” she said.
Abortion advocacy groups have cheered the development.
“Today’s victory affirms women’s lives matter … without politically motivated bans standing in the way,” said Brittany Mostiller of the Chicago Abortion Fund, according to ABC7 Chicago.
The law takes effect immediately. Illinois had heretofore only allowed Medicaid funds to be used for abortion in the instances of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
According to reports, in 1827, Illinois became one of the first states in U.S. history to completely ban abortion and criminalized any woman who, through use of poison, sought to end the life of her unborn child at any stage of development.