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Alee Quick: On HB40, Rauner did the right thing

Carbondale Southern Illinoisan

Thursday, October 12, 2017  |  Article  |  Alee Quick

Abortion (1) , Rauner, Bruce

Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose tenure as Illinois governor has been roiled by a years-long budget impasse — which ended this summer only after some members of his own party voted to override his veto of the budget plan — stuck to the principles he campaigned on three years ago and signed House Bill 40, which protects access to abortion in our state in several ways.

Rauner did the right thing.

The bill removes so-called “trigger language” from Illinois law that would make abortion illegal in the state if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It also allows Medicaid coverage of abortion, and it allows state health insurance to cover the procedure.

While pro-choice advocates applauded Rauner’s decision to sign the bill after he had threatened to veto it in the spring, some of his far-right colleagues promised a mutiny. House Republican floor leader Peter Breen said it is “inevitable” for another candidate to challenge Rauner in a March primary.

Republican members of Illinois’ congressional delegation also released (identical) statements on Rauner’s signing of the bill, after they voted in favor of House Resolution 36, which would ban abortion 20 weeks or more after conception.

The resolution is called “the Unborn Pain-Capable Child Protection Act,” and restricts abortion after the 20-week mark because it claims that a fetus can feel pain at that point. (According to a statement from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “the fetus does not even have the physiological capacity to perceive pain until at least 24 weeks of gestation.”).

The statement from Reps. John Shimkus’ and Mike Bost’s offices reads: “In a reversal of long-standing Illinois policy, Governor Rauner has let down Illinois taxpayers and the unborn by signing H.B. 40. Today, the Illinois delegation stands together in our support of H.R. 36 to protect human life.”

When Rauner announced he was signing the bill, he was measured, serious, perhaps even pained — I read it as a reflection of the difficulty of the situation in our current political climate.

“The passions, the emotions, the sentiments on both sides of these issues are very powerful ... the moral argument against HB40 is very powerful,” he said in a news conference before signing the bill. “In my view, it’s not debatable, it is irrefutable, I respect it very much.”

True. It is impossible to argue with someone’s moral and religious beliefs.

“On the other side of this issue, the arguments, the position for women’s rights, women’s equality, women’s health, are very powerful. I support them,” Rauner said.

True. Women are people.

“I tried in the spring, and I tried for months as this bill was debated and ultimately passed, to find common ground with both sides of this issue,” Rauner said. “We were unable to do that. The passions run too deep.”

True. There will never be a consensus on the issue of abortion.

It seems to me Rauner struggled quite a bit on whether to sign this bill. Ultimately, I think he got it right.

Gov. Rauner didn’t just get it right because he based his decision on U.S. law and precedent, set by the Supreme Court with its decision on Roe v. Wade. He didn’t just get it right because he stuck to his campaign promises and principles, which helped him gain victory as a fiscal conservative in an otherwise liberal state.

Most importantly to me, he got it right because it seems he did not bow to pressure from the religiously-motivated ultra-right-wing faction of his party that would impose its religious beliefs on everyone. Rauner is a fiscal conservative, and he's staying in his lane.