Senate Dems put hold on sending abortion bill to Rauner’s desk

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State legislators, by law, enjoy annual cost-of-living pay raises unless they vote against them. | AP/Seth Perlman

Illinois Senate Democrats are temporarily halting a controversial abortion bill from reaching the governor’s desk — calling it a way to protect the bill from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vowed veto “until he comes to his senses.”

The bill would force the Republican governor running for re-election to decide whether to risk angering socially moderate voters by vetoing it, or risk the wrath of conservatives by signing it.

The motion was filed Wednesday night by State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who also served as the chief co-sponsor of the measure, which passed the Illinois Senate on Wednesday 33-22. It passed the Illinois House on April 25.

“This measure is too important to immediately put it in the hands of a governor whose public opinions about women’s access to safe, affordable reproductive health care have been inconsistent at best,” Harmon said in a statement.

Harmon said the motion allows the Senate to protect the bill “until he [Rauner] comes to his senses.”

He added: “It does not jeopardize the bill’s ability to become law.”

The bill contains language to remove a “trigger provision” that would make abortions illegal should Roe v. Wade be overturned — and also would allow women with Medicaid and state employee health insurance to use their coverage for abortions in any case. The state already pays for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

Rauner on April 14 said he wouldn’t support the bill. He later said the expansion is too “divisive” and “controversial” to deal with in light of the state’s fiscal problems. His administration said he’d veto the bill because of “sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion,” while offering that he’s “committed to protecting women’s reproductive rights under current Illinois law.”

Rauner came under fire last month by abortion rights group Personal PAC; the group then released a candidate questionnaire from the 2014 governor’s race showing Rauner’s support for pro-choice causes.

Personal PAC CEO Terry Cosgrove on Thursday said he’s urging people to call the governor to show support for the bill.

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