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The Facts —
- Illinois’ Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation into law, which will take effect on 1 January, allowing state health insurance and state Medicaid coverage for abortions.
- The bill also removes language in Illinois law that states a desire to criminalize abortion if the 1973 Roe v Wade US Supreme Court ruling that legalized the procedure is overturned.
- Rauner signed the legislation into law on 28 September.
What about the Hyde Amendment?
- The Hyde Amendment, which was named after its original sponsor, the late Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, was first passed in 1976 — three years after Roe v Wade was decided by the US Supreme Court — and banned federal funding of abortions.
- The Hyde Amendment has been passed every year since 1976, as part of the annual Labor-HHS (Health and Human Services) appropriations bill, basically unchanged except for the added exception which has been continuously incorporated since 1994 that allows federal funding to be used for abortions in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger, according to NPR.
- This year, the House passed HR 7 which would codify the Hyde Amendment, removing the need to pass it every year. The bill, which has not yet been voted on in the Senate, reads:
“This bill makes permanent the prohibition on the use of federal funds, including funds in the budget of the District of Columbia, for abortion or health coverage that includes abortion. The prohibitions in this bill, and current prohibitions, do not apply to abortions in cases of rape or incest, or where a physical condition endangers a woman’s life unless an abortion is performed.”
- The Hyde Amendment only applies to federal funds, but states can use their own Medicaid funds to fund abortions should they so choose, like Illinois has now done.
Gov. Rauner’s Varied Positions on the Bill —
- “Illinois is the first state in decades to lift their restriction on Medicaid coverage of abortion,” according to Physicians for Reproductive Health, which describes itself as “medical community and concerned supporters… work[ing] to improve access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including contraception and abortion.”
- The bill lifting the restriction passed the Illinois House of Representatives in April by a vote of 62-55 and the Illinois Senate in May by a vote of 33-22.
- It was held before being presented to the governor for signing into law partly because Gov. Rauner reversed his position from supporting to opposing the bill in April, according to the Washington Post.
- Rauner said during his campaign for governor of Illinois in 2014 that he felt previously existing legislation that restricted taxpayer-funder abortion coverage “unfairly restricts access based on income,” according to NBC News.
- Then, in April, he changed his position from supporting legislation that would reverse the law, instead expressing a desire to focus on a balanced budget, reduced property taxes and lawmaker term limits, according to NBC News. Rauner said:
“What we should not do is take on controversial divisive issues right now.”
- Rauner stated his shift in support before the Illinois legislature vetoed him in July to pass a budget in the state for the first time in two years.
- Rauner, who is a Republican, will be up for re-election as governor in 2018 and will potentially face one of the following Democratic opponents, according to NBC:
- State Senator Daniel Biss;
- Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber;
- Chris Kennedy, son of the late Robert F Kennedy;
- 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar;
- Small business owner Alex Paterakis; or
- Billionaire JB Pritzker, a member of the Pritzker family which owns the Hyatt hotel chain.
Supporters of the Legislation —
- Gov. Rauner said he has always supported abortion rights at a news conference where he announced he would sign the bill on 28 September:
“I have not and never will change my views. “I personally believe that a woman should have, must have the right to decide what goes on in her own body, that a woman should have the right to decide her health care.”
- Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America said on 28 September:
— NARAL (@NARAL) September 28, 2017
Critics of the Legislation —
- Illinois state Representative Peter Breen, the House Republican floor leader, said on 28 September, according to the Chicago Tribune:
“In the face of overwhelming evidence of Rauner’s inability to competently administer the Illinois government, inability to stand up to [Illinois’ Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan] effectively, and inability to keep his word and his commitments, I can no longer support him.”
- Illinois Republican Party Chairman and Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider said he was “disappointed” in Rauner, according to the Chicago Tribune:
“While I am frustrated and saddened, I also know that Speaker Madigan and the Democrats are trying to use this issue to divide our party and elect a Madigan-backed candidate for governor.”
Stephanie Haney contributed to this report.