Illinois taxpayers sue state over controversial bill expanding abortion coverage

By Fr. Mark Hodges

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, (LifeSiteNews) — A taxpayer lawsuit against the state of Illinois is challenging a new law that uses public funds for abortion.

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner broke his promises to pro-lifers when he signed into law at the end of September legislation (House Bill 40) to expand taxpayer-subsidized abortions.

The complaint was made by the Thomas More Society (TMS) on behalf of Illinois taxpayers who do not want their hard earned money to be used to fund as many as 30,000 abortions a year.

“The people of Illinois totally reject taxpayer-funded abortions,” State Rep. Peter Breen (48th District), who also serves as TMS Special Counsel and who drafted the lawsuit, stated. “Under HB 40, Illinoisans will be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year.”

Numerous Illinois legislators, nearly a dozen county and state pro-life organizations, and the Springfield Catholic Diocese joined the suit, filed in the Sangamon County Circuit Court last week.

HB 40 requires tax dollars pay for abortion-on-demand for anyone on Medicaid and for all insured state employees. It offers no gestational limit to funding elective abortions and it applies “through the full nine months of pregnancy and for any reason, even when the latest scientific research has shown that the unborn child can feel pain and survive outside the womb,” a TMS press release notes.

HB 40 also states no limit to the number of abortions to be tax funded. The estimate of up to 30,000 abortions per year funded by taxpayers may be low.

Further complicating matters is the fact that HB 40 sets no maximum limit to the amount the state will pay for each abortion. This means that the Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ reported cost of up to $1000 for each Medicaid abortion may be low as well.

Using these possibly low figures, HB 40 is estimated to cost taxpayers up to thirty million dollars.

“Regardless of your feelings about abortion, it is incredibly fiscally irresponsible to enact a law designed to spend millions of dollars that Illinois does not have,” Rep. Breen explained.

“The state legislative process has steps that must be correctly followed in order to prevent budget-busting laws like this from being ramrodded through,” Breen said. “It is part of our civic process of checks and balances.”

The suit charges that the state General Assembly had not budgeted for the pro-abortion legislation and violated the Balanced Budget dictates of the Illinois Constitution in passing the bill.

“Even apart from the sincere moral objections that many folks have to paying for abortions, there is no money in this year’s Illinois state budget to pay for them,” Rep. Breen explained.

Secondly, the suit charges that HB 40 did not make the constitutional cut-off date for legislation to go into effect at the beginning of the next calendar year.

“Because of games played by Senate Democrats in holding HB 40 until late September, after the May 31 cutoff for legislative action, this bill can’t be effective until June 1, not January 1,” Breen added.

The taxpayer complaint asks the court to block state funding for HB 40.

Illinois allows individual taxpayer lawsuits to challenge state expenditures after a petition hearing. The petition hearing for this TMS suit is set for Thursday, December 7, at 10:30 a.m. before Associate Judge Brian T. Otwell at the Sangamon County Courthouse.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois backed the bill. Director of Public Policy Ed Yohnka compared providing abortions with providing knee replacements.

In commenting on legislators’ need to budget provisions for HB 40’s 30,000 abortions, Yohnka said, “That’s like saying the General Assembly has to appropriate money for knee replacements.”

Fifteen states spend taxes to pay for Medicaid abortions, some only because a judge forced them to.  Previous to HB 40, Illinois only paid for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s health.

The petition for the taxpayer lawsuit may be read here.

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