A bill has been filed that would remove the taxpayer funding of elective abortions that was included in a controversial measure signed last month by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
State Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, says his bill would remove the public funding of abortions through Medicaid and state employee health insurance, something he thinks a number of lawmakers who voted for HB 40 were opposed to.
“Some of my colleagues have heard privately from Democrats that they did not like having to vote for HB 40. They felt they had to,” Breen said, adding that some may have been misled about other language in the bill that would allow for abortions should Roe v. Wade be struck down. “I hope that we can bring forward a majority coalition that would say ‘no taxpayer funding for abortion.'”
Lorie Chaiten, director of the Womens’ and Reproductive Rights Project with ACLU Illinois, said the language recently passed isn’t about forcing anyone to pay for abortions, but offering lower-income Illinoisans the same choice as others who can afford their own coverage.
“This is about making basic, essential health care available for women who choose it,” she said. “The additional cost of pre-natal care, delivery, and public assistance for people who want to terminate their pregnancies is four-to-five times the cost of an abortion under Medicaid. When you deny access to women to this health care, you push them into poverty and you also cost the state more money.”
Breen called Chaiten’s reasoning for the cost neutrality of House Bill 40 “gruesome.”
“It’s a claim that we end the lives of these children and for that reason we don’t have to pay for any immediate medical care,” he said.
Breen is also working with the pro-life non-profit Thomas More Society, which he serves as a special council, to organize a lawsuit challenging how House Bill 40 was brought to Rauner. The bill had passed both houses in May but Democrat Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, held the bill until late September before sending it to the governor.
Breen’s reasoning behind the challenge is based on the date Democrats say the bill was passed by the legislature. If they say that HB40 passed both chambers on May 10, then it’s effective date would be Jan. 1, 2018. But that also poses a problem because then Rauner would have signed it well after after the Constitutionally-required 60-day limit, even though he signed it days after it was actually put on his desk.
On the other hand, if Democrats say the bill passed both chambers on Sept. 25, when Harmon finally sent it to Rauner, then it cannot be effective until June 1, 2018, the beginning of the state’s new fiscal year.
“The Illinois Constitution says that if you pass a bill, you put it on the governor’s desk in 30 days, and it says [the General Assembly must] get your work done by May 31,” he said. “Both of those principals are being violated here.”
Chaiten said that even if Breen’s lawsuit is successful, it only delays care to women who need it.