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HB40 clears its first hurdle with House passage
by Matt Simonette
2017-04-25

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House Bill 40, legislation sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz ( D-Chicago ) that would, among other components, eliminate a 42-year-old "trigger law" that would go into effect should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the United State Supreme Court, was passed by the House on April 25 with a vote of 62-55-0. The bill now goes to the state Senate for a vote there.

A 1975 measure states that if the Roe v. Wade decision were to be overturned, a law making abortion illegal in Illinois would be "triggered" and automatically take effect. HB 40 would eliminate that possibility.

HB 40 has touched off further controversy in Springfield, however, since Gov. Bruce Rauner has stated that he would veto the bill. Progressive advocates and Rauner's political opponents cried foul, accusing the governor of backtracking on campaign statements he made in support of reproductive rights. The pro-choice organization Personal PAC released a 2014 questionnaire filled out by Rauner where he made such statements. Rauner claimed that he does not support the legislation because, among its other tenets, it would ease restrictions on abortions paid for with Medicaid dollars.

But for the time being. the House passage of HB 40 could not have come on a better day for the bill's supporters. As the measure was being debated, about 2,000 people were outside the State Capitol taking part in the Illinois Women March on Springfield Rally. Both House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton spoke at the rally, assuring the crowd that the measure would pass.

"Today is a victory for every woman in our state because it protects every woman's right to choose," Feigenholtz said in a statement. "I applaud my colleagues who took the critical vote that removed the dangerous anti-choice trigger language from the original act. Today, we stated unequivocally that access to safe legal abortion will remain protected in Illinois."

She added, "After repeated threats from the White House and President Trump's remarks to strip abortion rights away from women, this legislation was necessary to safeguard a woman's right to make decisions that affect her personal health in Illinois."

Feigenholtz furthermore criticized Rauner's stance on HB 40.

"Governor Bruce Rauner is clueless about what women go through when trying to access reproductive health care in Illinois," she said. "He sits in his ivory tower spending millions on TV campaign ads—what he needs to do is spend a day in the shoes of a woman struggling to access reproductive health care."


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