Illinois bill expands abortion coverage, faces governors veto

FILE PHOTO: Illinois Gov-elect 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

CHICAGO — An Illinois bill that would expand
state-funded coverage of abortions passed the Democratic-controlled Senate on
Wednesday but faces a likely veto by the state’s Republican

The measure, which passed the Senate 33-22, seeks to expand coverage of abortions for low-income women and state employees and aims to
keep abortions legal in Illinois if the U.S. Supreme Court
were to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The expansion would enable poor women to obtain elective
abortions and allow state employees to
have the procedures covered under state health insurance.

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.

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 Senate.

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.