Republicans push back against abortion bill

GOP fights taxpayer funded abortions

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Republicans are mounting a renewed effort to dismantle House Bill 40, a controversial abortion bill signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner. 

Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard), the recently elected House Floor Leader, filed a bill called 'No Taxpayer Funding Abortion' which has already picked up two-thirds of the House Republican caucus as bill sponsors. 

Supporters say the bill mirrors much of the language federal Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal tax dollars being spent on most abortion procedures. 

Critics warn Breen's bill would go much further, cutting off local government funds already used to cover abortions, a practice Planned Parenthood Illinois' Brigid Leahy says has already been in place for 15 years in places like Cook County. 

"Planned Parenthood and the other advocates who stand up for access to safe and legal abortion are going to fight to fight to make sure this bill doesn't see the light of day," Leahy said. 

Breen's bill has been referred to Rules Committee, where at least one Democrat would need to join two Republican members to allow it to pass before it could reach the floor for a vote. 

At the time of this article's publication, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and former Floor Leader Steven Andersson were two of the Republicans not yet listed as co-sponsors. Republican Tom Demmer is the lone member of the Rules Committee who has joined the bill as a co-sponsor. 

"It's not a surprise that Peter Breen is serving up a brushback pitch to HB40," Sara Feigenholtz said. The House Democrat sponsored the bill to allow women on Medicaid and state employee health insurance to use their plans to pay for abortions. Feigenholtz's bill also removed a "trigger provision" which would have outlawed abortion in Illinois in the event the U.S. Supreme Court someday overturned Roe v. Wade. 

"Inflating costs, tinkering with numbers, stigmatizing and shaming women is part of the Peter Breen playbook," Feigenholtz said. 

Pro-choice advocates have courted fiscal conservatives to their cause, stressing that any costs associated with abortion procedures would be offset by eliminating the need for the state to cover more expensive prenatal care. Social conservatives say that argument entirely misses their point. 

"So she favors taxpayer funded abortion as a cost saving measure? How callous," State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) replied. "I oppose it because abortion is a controversial and culturally divisive act that taxpayers should not be forced to fund. If [Feigenholtz] thinks all conservatives care about is money, then she doesn't know us at all."  

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services added a fiscal note to HB40, estimating the state would spend $1.8 million on abortion services in it's first year. 

The Department of Human Services said a similar bill that was proposed in the 99th General Assembly would have "no fiscal impact" on the agency. 


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