Catholic Conference leader says abortion bill would make all of Illinois complicit
Robert Gilligan finds hypocrisy in House Bill 40.
“For years, what we’ve heard is that abortion is between a woman and her doctor,” Glligan, the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, told the Sangamon Sun. “This bill would make everyone who pays taxes complicit to the termination of child at any stage of pregnancy.”
The House passed the bill recently, and it is now under consideration in the Senate, where anti-abortion activists like Gilligan lament that it figures to attract even wider support.
The bill would allow Medicaid recipients and state employees to use taxpayer money for elective abortion services. It also removes language mandating that an unborn child is legally considered a human being.
But Gilligan remains hopeful that the bill will end with Gov. Bruce Rauner's promised veto.
“We’re just grateful for the governor’s stand on this issue,” Gilligan added.
Gilligan said he believes the public is also on his side.
A series of recent public opinion polls found that most Americans are against the idea of publicly funded abortions, with a Marist Institute survey concluding that 61 percent of all respondents were opposed, including 40 percent who identified as pro-choice.
Currently, 15 states fund elective abortions for Medicaid participants, 11 of which are acting on the orders of the court, not the legislature.
“Elected representatives today chose raw politics over the innocent lives of the unborn,” Gilligan said after the House vote. “Universities and programs can’t get funding now, but we’re willing to spend money on something most Illinoisans are against.”
Gilligan estimates that Illinois taxpayers would be on the hook for an additional $60 million in funding if the bill becomes law.
“Supporters of it believe it puts the governor in a difficult position given his stance on the issue during his campaign,” he said. “It’s all about politics.”
Meanwhile, Rauner has said his change of mind comes from the state’s need to focus on more pressing issues, including reducing property taxes and putting an end to the state’s nearly two-year budget impasse.
HB40 was introduced by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), who has said her actions were at least partly motivated by what’s happening at the federal level.
"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," she said.