Governor Rauner signs law allowing public funding of abortions

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Friday, September 29, 2017

People carry signs as thousands of participants walk in Chicago's March for Life Jan. 15. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago joined other pro-life speakers at the event. Cupich said Sept. 28 that that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner broke a promise when he signed a bill allowing public funding of abortions. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

The Catholic Conference of Illinois said it was “deeply disturbed” by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to sign a law that provides taxpayer funding for abortions, among other provisions.

“It’s outrageous that he would sign a piece of legislation like this,” said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the conference, which is the public policy arm of the church in Illinois. “Especially after he promised Cardinal Cupich that he would veto the whole bill.”

The bill expands Medicaid and state employee insurance for abortions. Before this law, those programs only covered abortions in cases of rape, incest or where there is a threat to the health or life of the mother.

The bill, known as HB 40, also eliminates a provision in state law that would have automatically made abortions illegal in Illinois if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

In a Sept. 29 story, the Chicago Tribune reported that Cardinal Cupich reminded the governer of his promise.

"I reminded him of the promise and also my statement earlier thanking him for that," Cupich said, according to the Tribune. "He did break his word. He broke his word to the people, especially those who have continued to speak on behalf of the vulnerable child in the womb."

The conference statement goes on to say, “Governor Rauner, together with the legislators who voted for this misguided legislation, will now force Illinois taxpayers to pay for the taking of human life, in this case that of a defenseless child in the womb.

“We remain dedicated to advocating for the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception to natural death and will work to convince the public and our elected officials about the grave moral error this legislation represents.”

Gilligan said that there had been rumors that the governor would use his amendatory veto powers to stop the public-funding portion of the law from going into effect, while allowing the part that would have stopped all abortions from being outlawed. Then he started to hear rumors that he would sign the bill without any amendatory veto at all.

The legislation passed the Illinois House in April in a 62-55 vote, and passed the Senate in May by a vote of 33-22. Neither majority met the three-fifths threshold needed to override a veto.

More than a week before the governor signed the bill, the bishops who lead all six Illinois dioceses wrote to Rauner to ask for a meeting before he did anything, Gilligan said, and Gilligan followed up more than once to ask for a time as he tried to line up people to attend a meeting, but he never got any response.

“The cardinal did get a courtesy call yesterday before the governor signed it, but that was it,” Gilligan said on Sept. 29.

Gilligan had been hoping to bring representatives from crisis pregnancy centers to show that there are alternatives to abortion, a researcher who could show evidence that the number of abortions go up when there is public funding, even an obstetrician-gynecologist and a nurse who could talk about what an abortion procedure entails.

If Rauner spoke with any pro-life advocates before making his decision, Gilligan said, he doesn’t know who.

“He didn’t talk with anyone I’ve asked about it,” Gilligan said.



  • abortion
  • bruce rauner

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