The Illinois Senate voted in favor of a bill to expand abortion coverage and ensure that it remains legal in the state on Tuesday, sending it to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk despite his public statement that he would veto the measure.
House Bill 40 passed the Democratic-controlled Senate 33 to 22 on a party line vote. If signed into law, the measure would allow the state to cover abortions for its employees and Medicaid recipients, as well as protect access to abortion in Illinois should the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing it be overturned.
Introduced by Democratic State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, of Chicago, HB 40 cleared the House by a vote of 62-55 on April 25, the same day hundreds of women converged on the capital for the Women's March on Springfield.
“I applaud Senator Heather Steans and my colleagues in the Senate for standing up for women’s rights today," Feigenholtz said in a statement. "Illinois took another important step towards healthcare equality for all women who deserve access to all reproductive health options."
"The burden of giving millions of women in Illinois these fair and equal rights now rest squarely on the shoulders of Bruce Rauner," she added. "After repeated threats from the White House and President Trump’s remarks to strip abortion rights away from women, this legislation was necessary to safeguard a woman’s right to make decisions that affect her personal health in Illinois."
The bill has garnered considerable attention, as Rauner, a Republican, has said he planned to veto the bill if it passes, because he does not support expanding Medicaid expenses for abortion - a position in direct contradiction with what he promised during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
As a candidate, Rauner said in 2014 that he would back efforts to change state law against taxpayer-funded abortion because it "unfairly restricts access based on income."
However, the governor said just days before the House voted in favor of HB 40 that he would not support the measure, because it's too controversial and Illinois should focus on other issues like reducing property taxes, lawmaker term limits and other elements of his "turnaround agenda."
A spokesperson for Rauner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Senate's passage of HB 40.