Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a legislation into law that allows taxpayer funds to be used for elective abortions through Medicaid.
HB 40, signed by the governor on Thursday, also ensures that abortion remains legal in the state in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It also allows state employee insurance plans to provide coverage for pregnant women who are seeking abortions, according to Christian News Network.
Additionally, the measure also removes language concerning the General Assembly's declaration that the unborn child is a "human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes of the unborn child's right to life."
Rauner, who was elected on the campaign promise to be neutral on social issues, had previously vowed to veto the bill due to "sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion."
"I support [legal abortion]. I want to protect that. But the bill goes further and expands taxpayer funding in a way that only two other states have. That's very divisive," the governor stated in May, as reported by The Christian Post.
The bill, introduced last December, was passed by the House by a vote of 62–55 in April and approved by the Senate in May by a vote of 33–22. Lawmakers postponed sending the measure to the governor's desk out of concern that it might be vetoed.
In a statement on Thursday, Rauner said he believes that a woman should "have the right to make that choice herself and I do not believe that choice should be determined by income."
"I do not think it's fair to deny poor women the choice that wealthy women have," he went on to say.
According to Illinois Right To Life Executive Director Emily Troscinski, Illinois once funded unrestricted abortions through Medicaid in the late 1970s, costing taxpayers about $1.8 million for about 12,738 abortions.
She predicted that state taxpayers will be forced to pay for as many as 12,000 abortions each year because of the new law.
A Politico/Harvard University poll conducted in October 2016 indicated that just 36 percent of likely voters were in favor of taxpayer funding for abortions, while 58 percent opposed it.
The poll results also revealed that those who earn $75,000 were more supportive of taxpayer funding for abortions, with 45 percent in favor of it. Those who earn $25,000 or less were strongly against it, with only 24 percent supporting the idea.