Anti-abortion groups sue over state abortion services funding law

SPRINGFIELD — Ten Illinois anti-abortion groups are suing over a law that allows Medicaid funds to be used for abortion services.

The State Journal-Register of Springfield reported that organizations involved included Springfield Right to Life, the Diocese of Springfield and the Thomas More Society.

From the State Journal-Register:

The Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit over House Bill 40, the bill signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner that infuriated pro-life Republicans who said the governor had vowed to veto it. The bill calls for the state to pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients and women covered by state employee health insurance.

“The people of Illinois totally reject taxpayer-funded abortions,” Peter Breen, a special counsel to the Society and a Republican representative from Lombard, said in a statement. “Under HB 40, Illinoisans will be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year with their tax dollars.”

The lawsuit says the state can’t pay for the abortions because the General Assembly didn’t authorize money in the budget to pay for them. It also says that since lawmakers never adopted a revenue estimate for the budget as they are supposed to do, it can’t be assumed money is available to pay for the abortions. It also notes some have said the budget is out of balance by $1.7 billion.

The lawsuit also alleges the HB 40 cannot take effect before June 1, instead of Jan. 1. The bill passed during the spring session, but was not sent to Rauner until September. Because of that delay, the lawsuit says, the law essentially didn’t pass until that date and the Constitution stipulates the legislation can’t go into effect until June 1. The lawsuit wants the court to at least prevent any spending on abortions covered by HB 40 until that date.

An initial hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for next Thursday.

The suit also names eight Republican lawmakers and plaintiffs. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the legislation in September, causing outrage among social conservatives in the state.

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