By State Rep. Joe Sosnowski -
On April 25, the Illinois House of Representatives passed the controversial House Bill 40 by a vote of 62-55. This legislation would remove the existing ban on taxpayer-funded abortion in Illinois under the state’s Medicaid program. I voted No.
For 36 years, the State of Illinois has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion; except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. This has also been the policy of the federal government since 1975.
The ethics of abortion have been debated across the United States and here in Illinois for decades. While I believe more and more Americans will continue to embrace a culture of life as this debate moves forward, in the meantime, we must address what is at stake with House Bill 40. The issue with this bill is specifically whether taxpayer dollars should be used to pay for elective abortion, meaning termination of a pregnancy for any reason other than rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.
According to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are nearly 40,000 abortions performed in the State of Illinois each year. Currently, there are abortions happening under the above referenced exceptions. House Bill 40 would expand the eligibility for patients covered by the state’s Medicaid program by forcing taxpayers to pay for elective abortions as well. This bill would also add full abortion coverage to state employees’ insurance plans that taxpayers would then have to pay.
The Department of Healthcare and Family Services and a study from the Legislative Reference Bureau approximate that expanding taxpayer-funded abortions could cost the state’s Medicaid program as much as $60 Million.
This is more spending in a time when taxes have been increased in an attempt to pay down some of our burgeoning debt. We do not need to add extra costs with morally controversial initiatives in a time of our state’s severe debt crisis.
As of September 20, the Comptroller’s Office reports that the state’s backlog of past-due bills currently exceeds $15.57 Billion. In addition, Illinois has another $200 billion in unfunded liabilities (pension, health, etc.) whose bills are coming due. That represents over $16,000 in debt for every man, woman and child in Illinois; a state of 12.8 million people with a population that has declined by tens of thousands each of the past three years. Unacceptable.
Those who support abortion rights and those who oppose abortion should all agree that the state needs to fix its budget disaster, and we cannot afford to increase the amount of debt on families. The tax increase that was forced through has done nothing to address our long-term financial recklessness. As such, Illinois cannot afford House Bill 40; morally or financially.
Currently, the bill is being held by procedural maneuvering, but when it reaches Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk, he should veto it. He has stated his intention previously to do exactly that. I applaud him for taking that stand. Illinois families cannot afford this bill and should not support abortion expansions. These divisive issues are a distraction from the important issues of pension reform, responsible budgeting and reforming our state to be a growth economy.