Update: The Illinois House of Representatives passed HB40 Tuesday, despite the governor's promised to veto the bill.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner may identify himself as a pro-choice Republican, but his decision to veto a a new abortion bill is creating anger among reproductive rights supporters.
This story was originally published on April 18, 2017.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports the governor plans to veto a House bill that would remove the state's "trigger provision." Illinois is one of only four states with a law saying that if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, abortion would automatically become illegal in the state. The Abortion Law of 1975 reads, "if those decisions of the United States Supreme Court are ever reversed or modified or the United States Constitution is amended to allow protection of the unborn then the former policy of this State to prohibit abortions unless necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life shall be reinstated."
The HB40 bill, sponsored by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, would take out that provision. Eliminating the trigger would protect women's right to an abortion in the state, even in the case that Roe v. Wade is reversed.
The bill would also allow abortion coverage for people with Medicaid and health insurance provided to state employees. (Illinois already pays for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life.) Feigenholtz argued that not paying for the abortions of poor women is "discriminatory."
According to the Sun-Times, she planned on calling the bill for a vote on April 25, the same day the “Illinois Women March on Springfield” is planned in the capital. But a spokesperson for Rauner, who is up for re-election in 2018, said on Friday the governor won't support the bill if it reaches his desk. Politico reports that around 20 Republicans told Rauner to veto the bill if he wants their support in his re-election bid.
"Gov. Rauner is committed to protecting women’s reproductive rights under current Illinois law. However, recognizing the sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion, he does not support HB40," spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said in a statement to the Sun-Times.
Lorie Chaiten, the Reproductive Rights Project Director for the ACLU of Illinois, said the organization was dissatisfied with Rauner's decision.
"We are disappointed and dismayed that Governor Rauner has turned his back on the healthcare needs of women in Illinois by announcing his opposition to House Bill 40. This measure – which had strong support in the House of Representatives – is a critical opportunity to support the women of Illinois and fight back against reckless threats emanating from Washington, DC," she said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Illinois women need a governor who will be bold and brave and stand up to the politicians in DC who think they should be able to make healthcare decisions for a woman — without knowing anything about her life.
She added, "The governor can expect to hear from Illinois women who wanted Illinois officials to take action and to speak out forcefully for equality and justice. Now is not the time for the governor to stand in the background. He should stand with women and to secure essential rights that will protect lives and health."
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