Bill to Expand Abortion Coverage Passes Illinois House

House Bill 40 will now head to the Senate for consideration, despite Gov. Bruce Rauner's pledge to veto the measure

As hundreds of women converged on the capital for the Women’s March on Springfield Tuesday, lawmakers in the Illinois House voted in favor of removing prohibitions on publicly funded abortions in the state.

House Bill 40 passed by a vote of 62-55 and will move to the Illinois Senate for consideration.

The bill has made headlines in recent weeks as Republican Governor Bruce Rauner 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.

Introduced by Democratic State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, of Chicago, 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.

"Today is a victory for every woman in our state because it protects every woman's right to choose," Feigenholtz said Tuesday in a release. "I applaud my colleagues who took the critical vote that removed the dangerous anti-choice trigger language from the original act. Today, we stated unequivocally that access to safe legal abortion will remain protected in Illinois."

"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," Feigenholtz added.

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 Friday that he would not support HB 40, 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."

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