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Hearing in abortion funding case set for Dec. 28

State Journal Register

Thursday, December 7, 2017  |  Article  |  Doug Fink

Abortion (1)

Lawyers for pro-life groups and the state of Illinois will be in court Dec. 28 arguing whether a lawsuit that would block public funding of abortions should be dismissed.

Pro-life groups also may seek to stop the state from spending any money on abortions until the lawsuit is resolved. A controversial state law that provides funding for abortion services for women covered by Medicaid and state employee health insurance is set to go into effect Jan. 1.

The initial hearing schedule was set Wednesday at the Sangamon County Complex on a lawsuit filed by a dozen state lawmakers and pro-life organizations seeking to block the implementation of House Bill 40.

“We’ve got to get in before January 1, as we see it, to try to prevent the public monies from being spent,” said Peter Breen, a special counsel to the Thomas More Society which filed the lawsuit. Breen is also a Republican state representative from Lombard.

Breen told Judge Jennifer Ascher that he has tried without success to get state officials to tell him if they plan to start paying for abortions as of Jan. 1.

The lawsuit uses two approaches to challenge the abortion law. One is that state lawmakers did not appropriate money to pay for the abortions covered by HB 40. Pro-life groups have estimated the cost to the state at $15 million and $30 million, although pro-choice lawmakers said that figure is exaggerated.

Breen said the state doesn’t have enough revenue to cover the cost no matter what, given that Gov. Bruce Rauner has said the budget has a $1.7 billion deficit.

“Do you want to defund your universities to pay for elective abortions?” Breen said. “Are we going to take money out of the mouths of poor children in order to pay for elective abortions? That’s the issue here. There’s no money to pay for these procedures.”

The lawsuit also says the law cannot go into effect before June 1 because it didn’t pass with super majorities that would allow a Jan. 1 start date.

Rauner outraged social conservatives when he signed the bill after telling many Republicans last spring that he would veto it. His signing of the bill was one factor in state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, deciding to challenge Rauner in the GOP primary for governor.

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.