STEINBERG: Gov. Rauner not only acts, but does the right thing!

SHARE STEINBERG: Gov. Rauner not only acts, but does the right thing!

Gov. Bruce Rauner announces he will sign abortion legislation HB40. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Talk about a good week for women. Talk about progress.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced, in a royal decree, that next year it will tip-toe into the 20th century by finally allowing women to drive automobiles, as if they were fully cognizant human beings.

Then on Thursday, Illinois’ Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose record of inertia, wheel-spinning and fencepole-sitting is second-to-none, revealed that he would wrap his fingers around a pen and sign House Bill 40.

HB40, you should know, is the law that establishes that should the religious fanatics that Republicans have been stuffing the Supreme Court with actually reverse the widely popular Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, the “trigger law” that the bowl haircuts down in Springfield passed in 1975 would not automatically ban the procedure in Illinois.


Most women in Illinois no doubt did not realize that the trigger law, formally 720 Illinois Criminal Statute 510, was dangling over their heads all this time, ready to ban abortion the moment Roe v. Wade was overturned,

The only other states with such a law are Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota.

The new bill, sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, was filed almost three years ago. Rauner, who ran in 2014 stating he would not delve into “social issues” either by pushing to restrict abortion, or to reduce the ability of state-employees or poor women to get the procedure, began waffling publicly like Hamlet.

“I am personally pro-choice, but I respect the moral arguments and the debate on the other side, and I am listening and we will make a decision in the near future,” Rauner dithered on Monday.

I phoned Feigenholtz.

“This has been a long haul; It’s been a slog,” said the delighted legislator, who was shocked when the governor suggested he might not sign the bill, thinking, she said, “You need to go back and read your promises. You cannot flip-flop. You have to follow through.”

Well, in theory. We have a president to whom promises are just hurdles to leap over when lying in the future. It’s almost shocking that Rauner kept one. It was almost disorienting to see our governor not only do something, commit himself to an actual act involving the governance of the state. But also do something positive for half the population — at least half, not counting men who also benefit, and of course minus whatever religious zealots are so keen to force their religious practices upon non-believers they can’t even recognize what they’re doing: conjuring up babies who aren’t there, and murders that don’t actually occur.

I wish Bruce Rauner was the sort of person I could ask questions of and expect frank answers from. Feigenholtz spoke to Rauner Wednesday and reminded him that his Republicain predecessors, Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan all support reproductive rights. So I asked her: What did she think happened?

“I think he finally realized how important this legislation is to women in this current political climate,” she said. “He decided to stick to his original promise and help women.”

The Saudis loosening the leash on women and Bruce Rauner keeping a promise. Will wonders never cease?

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