Cardinal Cupich applauds Rauner's vow to veto abortion bill
Cardinal Blase Cupich, Catholic archbishop of Chicago, praised Gov. Bruce Rauner for vowing to veto a fast-moving bill requiring taxpayers to foot the bill for some abortions, and said he hopes the state can find a way to create a budget that puts money where it needs to be.
"I thank him for this principled stand,” Cupich told the Chicago City Wire. “Abortion is a controversial issue in this country, but using public money to provide abortions should not be.”
Estimated to require an additional $60 million in funding, House Bill 40 would pave the way for taxpayer money to be used to fund elective forms of abortions at any stage of the pregnancy for Medicaid recipients and state workers. The bill, which also removes language mandating that an unborn child is legally considered a human being, was approved by the House and Senate.
After campaigning as a pro-choice candidate three years ago, Rauner cites the state’s desperate need to tend to its two-year budget impasse and soaring levels of debt for his change in stance.
Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, told the City Wire that he’s convinced the governor’s loudest critics on the change are at least partly motivated by the thought of scoring political points.
“It’s all about politics,” he said. “Supporters of it believe it puts the governor in a difficult position given his stance on the issue during his campaign.”
Gilligan said public opinion polls suggest that most Americans support the governor's changing viewpoint, with a recent Marist Institute for Public Opinion for the Knights of Columbus poll finding that 61 percent reject the idea of taxpayer-funded abortions. Only 40 percent of those respondents identified as pro-choice.
Of the 15 states that currently fund elective abortions for Medicaid participants, 11 do so through a court order, not legislative action.
Polls and numbers aside, Cupich said the time for unity is now.
“I pray that this divisive issue will be put behind us and our government officials will now concentrate on the many difficult challenges facing Illinois," he said. “Most importantly, our political leaders must find a way to cooperate and craft a budget that serves all our people. It is essential that we unite in this effort, and I stand ready to help in any way.”
House Bill 40 was introduced by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), who said it was largely motivated by what’s happening at the federal level – namely, the Trump administration’s threats to repeal abortion rights.
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