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Illinois State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (REUTERS/Jim Young)

Fighting back

Illinois House passes bill that would cover abortion services through Medicaid

April 28, 2017

On Tuesday, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill that would require the state to cover abortion services through Medicaid and state-employee health insurance. If the measure passes the Senate, it would mark the first time abortion legislation has reached the governor’s desk in 17 years.

Abortion law in the state has changed little since the 1970s, when Illinois passed a “trigger law” to make abortion automatically illegal in the event that Roe v. Wade were ever overturned. According to state Representative Sara Feigenholtz, who represents a district in Chicago and is the bill’s sponsor, the election of Donald Trump had helped galvanize Illinois residents into working to protect their abortion rights. If the bill does manage to pass, she noted, it would also strike down the “trigger law.”

“I think he has sent shockwaves through women who have lived through times when abortions are illegal, and younger women,” she explained.

Conservative opponents have opposed the bill, arguing that taxpayer money should not be used to fund abortions.

“For approximately 36 years, it’s been the policy here in Illinois and in our country, that our citizens shouldn’t be required to pay for other people’s abortions,” said Murphysboro Representative Terri Bryant.

State governor Bruce Rauner has promised to veto the legislation even if it passes — despite the fact that that he had previously expressed support for abortion rights while running for office. At a women’s rally on Tuesday in Springfield, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker took Rauner to task over the issue.

“Apparently he changed his mind from the time that he ran for governor in 2014 and said he was pro-choice, to now where he says he’s going to veto this bill,” said Pritzker.

Rauner, a Republican, faced pushback from conservatives in 2016 after he signed a bill requiring that doctors who refuse to perform abortion for religious or moral reasons nonetheless provide patients with references to abortion services.

Read the full story at NPR Illinois.


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