Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) bucked his party’s conservative base for the second time in a one-month period by signing a bill into law Thursday that both requires taxpayers’ money to fund abortions through Illinois’ Medicaid program and prevents abortions from becoming illegal if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade.
Rauner had pledged to veto the controversial bill back in the spring, thus causing conservatives to condemn the Republican governor for reversing course and siding with the state’s Democrats in approving expanded abortion services by signing HB 40 into law. The fallout over the governor’s betrayal spilled over into Friday as conservatives, pro-life advocates, and the religious community lashed out at “Benedict Rauner” and his broken promise.
“Generals cannot lead when they betray their troops,” John Tillman, the CEO of the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, wrote in a Facebook post Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. “Benedict Rauner going back on his word and signing HB40.”
“Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, a politician loses when he gives his word to many people and goes back on it, including to Cardinal [Blase] Cupich,” Tillman continued. “Further, if you care only about economic issues, he has put that entire agenda at risk by betraying those to whom he gave his word. My personal views here only, of course.”
Cupich told the Chicago Tribune that Rauner “did break his word.”
“He broke his word to the people, especially those who have continued to speak on behalf of the vulnerable child in the womb,” Cupich said.
In his own defense, Rauner said that he made his decision after meeting “with legislators of both sides of this issue,” the Tribune reported.
“The views on both sides are deeply held,” Rauner said. “I’ve tried to make a decision that I believe is best.”
Rauner’s Thursday decision represented the latest instance in which he bucked his party and backed a Democratic bill on a partisan issue. On August 28, the governor stunned Republicans and incurred the wrath of immigration enforcement advocates when he signed into law a bill that protected illegal immigrants from being detained by police. The bill, known as the Trust Act, prohibited law enforcement officers from detaining or arresting an immigrant solely on the basis of breaking U.S. immigration laws by residing in the country illegally.
Some Republicans said that Rauner’s Thursday signature was a move designed to woo more moderate and independent voters into backing his 2018 re-election bid. But Rauner’s reversal led to a mass exodus as Republicans rescinded their support.
“The Rauner experiment is over,” state Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) told the Tribune. “He lied to us, he lied to the people, he even lied to Cardinal Cupich. And now, as far as re-election, I don’t think he has a chance. It’s done.”
State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) told the Tribune, “Several months ago [Rauner] promised over 23 legislators he would veto the bill,” adding, “Today he said he has to stand by what he believes is the right thing to do. Today I will also stand on what I believe is the right thing to do. I will not support this governor for re-election.”
The Republican governor’s decision to sign the Democrat-backed bill into law made Illinois the first state to mandate taxpayer funding through “the democratic process,” Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, noted Friday in a National Review op-ed.
“Prior to today, 15 states funded abortion through Medicaid,” New noted. “In eleven of these states, the policy was imposed through a judicial ruling. In the four other states, health departments simply decided Medicaid would cover elective abortions. As such, Governor Rauner made history in an ignominious way.”
Robert Gilligan, the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, told WGN9 that “the governor broke a promise” to the religious community by signing HB 40 into law.
“This means that thousands, tens of thousands of children will never make it into the world, and we’re going to pay for that,” Gilligan said. “I’ve been on the phone half the day talking to people who are now considering — you hear talk about a primary opponent, you hear talk about what’s the next steps.”
(photo credit, homepage and article images: Jodi Martinez)