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Reproductive rights measure heads to Rauner's desk
by Matt Simonette
2017-05-10

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A measure ensuring that access to legal abortions remains viable in Illinois should Roe v. Wade be overturned, on May 10, passed the Illinois State Senate and is headed for the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said he would veto the legislation.

The bill, HB 40, was passed in the Senate in a 33-22 vote. Besides ensuring that a "trigger law" that would again make abortion illegal again in the event of a Supreme Court reversal does not come to pass, the legislation also frees up Medicaid funds to pay for abortions.

It is that latter component that has been the sticking-point with Rauner. His office said the Medicaid aspect was "controversial," so he therefore would not sign it. Rauner reportedly offered to sign if the bill's chief sponsor in the House, state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz ( D-Chicago ) would drop the provision, but she refused. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by state Sen. Heather Steans ( D-Chicago ).

Rauner's opponents and reproductive-rights advocates cried foul on Rauner, claiming that he was reneging on campaign promises that he would not govern as a social conservative. Terry Cosgrove, CEO of the pro-choice organization Personal PAC, released a 2014 questionnaire wherein Rauner, then a gubernatorial candidate, indicated his pro-choice leanings.

"I applaud Senator Heather Steans and my colleagues in the Senate for standing up for women's rights today. Illinois took another important step towards healthcare equality for all women who deserve access to all reproductive health options," said Feigenholtz in a statement. "The burden of giving millions of women in Illinois these fair and equal rights now rests squarely on the shoulders of Bruce Rauner."

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."

HB 40 passed in the House on April 25 with a vote of 62-55.


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