Democratic Illinois House OKs public funding for abortions

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28 April, 2017

Sara Feigenholtz, of Chicago, the measure would allow the state to cover abortions for its employees and Medicaid recipients, as well as protect access to abortion in IL should the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing it be overturned.

IL lawmakers return to Springfield Tuesday to continue working on getting a balanced budget.

The Democratic-controlled Illinois House has approved public funding for all abortions.

Rauner has previously signed legislation that expanded access to birth control and required physicians who refuse to perform abortions to inform patients of other doctors who will perform the procedure.

The vote capped a two-hour debate and coincided with the Illinois Women March on Springfield for a "progressive agenda". "We need 60. There will be a lot of pressure on the governor to do the right thing and follow his promises and stick to his word", said State Representative Sara Feigenholtz.

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Illinois' Medicaid program covers abortions in cases of rape, incest and when a mother's life or health is threatened. The legislation also commits to maintain legal abortion in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns it, the Catholic News Agency details. As the state nears the two year mark without a budget, Rev. Jesse Jackson told the crowd he's trying to broker a summit between the parties. "Should it come from cancer screenings?"

"I don't really understand how we can say we do care about the most vulnerable among us when we have limited funds and we'll be spending money for something that not only is opposed by many of us but is considered to be an abomination", said state Representative Terri Bryant, a Republican from southern IL. Republican state Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard says Medicaid-funded abortions do not qualify for federal match so would cost IL an extra $60 million a year. The house passed the abortion expansion despite a veto threat by the state's Republican governor, Bruce Rauner.

Rauner said last week he opposes expanding publicly funded abortions, although he supports Feigenholtz in her effort to keep abortion legal in IL if Roe v. Wade is overturned. They include the long-stalled ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Illinois House Republicans unanimously voted down the bill, along with five Democrats.

Paul Caprio, director of Family-Pac, a lobbying group in IL, said in a news release earlier this month that he commends Rauner's decision to oppose the bill.

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