Illinois bill expands abortion coverage,
faces governor's veto
Send a link to a friend
[May 11, 2017]
By Timothy Mclaughlin
CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Illinois bill that
expands state-funded coverage of abortions for low-income residents and
state employees passed the Democratic-controlled Senate on Wednesday but
faces a likely veto by the state's Republican governor.
The measure, which passed the Senate 33-22, also aims to keep abortions
legal in Illinois if the U.S. Supreme Court follows President Donald
Trump's call to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling 44 years ago
that made abortions legal.
Illinois' Medicaid program covers abortions in cases of rape, incest and
when a mother's life or health is threatened. The expansion would enable
poor women to obtain elective abortions. Also, the legislation would
allow state employees to have the procedures covered under state health
The vote was a rare legislative victory for U.S. abortion-rights
advocates at a time when foes have ratcheted up the heat with the
election of Trump and a conservative Congress.
However, the victory will likely be short lived because Governor Bruce
Rauner has promised to veto the legislation, saying Illinois should
focus on less “divisive” issues and instead pass a full-year operating
budget for the first time in nearly two years.
A spokeswoman for Rauner directed questions on Wednesday evening to
previous statements where he said he did not support the measure.
However, as a candidate in 2014, he supported expanding abortion access.
Republican lawmakers have criticized the bill as both burdensome to tax
payers and immoral.
"We should be focused on ways to reduce costs—not advance costly
controversial proposals that will cost the taxpayers even more,"
Republican state senator Dan McConchie said in a statement on Wednesday.
[to top of second column]
Bruce Rauner speaks to the media after a meeting with U.S. President
Barack Obama and other Governor-elects from seven U.S. states at the
White House in Washington December 5, 2014. REUTERS/Larry
A veto override would take 71 votes in the Democrat-led House, where
the bill passed 62-55 in late April. It would take 36 votes in the
A veto by Rauner would be a sharp turn from his previous position,
which political opponents are poised to exploit.
"We cannot allow Illinois to return to the days when women had so
few options for reproductive care that they desperately resorted to
back-alley quacks, poison, knitting needles, disappearing from
public sight or suicide to deal with unwanted pregnancies," state
senator Daniel Biss, a Democrat, said in a statement after the bill
passed on Wednesday.
(Additional reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by David Gregorio)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.