By CHRISTOPHER ORLET
In late September, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a controversial measure to expand taxpayer-subsidized abortions.
Rauner earlier promised to veto the bill, which passed both the Illinois House and Senate in April.
During a homily to diocesan teachers Oct. 6 (see page 3), Bishop Edward K. Braxton said the Illinois bishops were deeply disturbed at the governor’s change of heart and that the bishops remain dedicated to securing the rights of the unborn.
“The governor let us down,” Bishop Braxton said. “This bill allows taxpayer money to end the lives of children who should one day be in your classrooms.”
The Bishops of the Province of Chicago released a joint statement expressing their deep disappointment with the governor: “We are deeply disturbed that Governor Rauner has broken his word and firm public promise to veto HB 40,” the statement read. “Governor Rauner, together with the legislators who voted for this misguided legislation, will now force Illinois taxpayers to pay for the taking of human life, in this case that of a defenseless child in the womb. We remain dedicated to advocating for the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception to natural death and will work to convince the public and our elected officials about the grave moral error this legislation represents.”
Bishop Braxton urged Catholics of the diocese to write their representatives and make their views known. “Your silence implies consent,” he said.
The governor’s change of heart drew sharp criticism from Republicans who accused him of breaking his promise.
HB 40 allows taxpayer money to be used to pay for elective abortions for Medicaid recipients and state employees. It also allows tax money to go to grants to organizations that refer, counsel for, or perform abortions. Current law calls for those grants to go to organizations that assist women experiencing problem pregnancies.
All three of these uses of taxpayer money are currently prohibited by Illinois law. Only 15 states currently pay for elective abortions for Medicaid participants, and 11 of those states do so through a court order, not legislative action.
HB 40 also deletes so-called “trigger” language in current Illinois law that states that if the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, the “former policy of this State to prohibit abortions unless necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life shall be reinstated.”