Touting their support for a Republican bill to outlaw most late-term abortions, Illinois’ GOP congressional delegation bashed Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday for signing an abortion measure last week – saying he’s “let down taxpayers and the unborn.”
Although the U.S. House bill faces certain defeat in the U.S. Senate, the legislation passed the House and is a major priority for the GOP, conservative groups and President Donald Trump.
The measure would make it a crime for anyone to perform most abortions on fetuses believed to be 20 weeks into development. Violators could face five years in prison, but the mothers undergoing such procedures could not be prosecuted. Such late-term abortions would remain legal to save the mother’s life and for incest and rapes reported to government authorities.
Illinois GOP Representatives Peter Roskam, John Shimkus, Randy Hultgren, Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood and Mike Bost released a statement Tuesday evening in support of the legislation, saying it came “in the wake of legislation signed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that would allow for the use of taxpayer money to cover an unlimited number of abortions anytime for any reason.”
“In a reversal of long-standing Illinois policy, Governor Rauner has let down Illinois taxpayers and the unborn by signing H.B. 40,” the statement said, referring to the Illinois bill. “Today, the Illinois delegation stands together in our support of H.R. 36 to protect human life.”
Rauner spokesman Hud Englehart on Tuesday night defended those claims.
“We vehemently disagree with [the] characterization of abortions ‘anytime for any reason,'” Englehart said. “HB40 provides that abortion services otherwise legal in Illinois will be covered by the medical assistance program under HB40.”
Rauner last week shocked many by signing into law a measure to expand taxpayer funding of abortions and ensure the procedure remains legal in Illinois. The signing seemed unlikely in April, when Rauner said he wouldn’t support the bill because of “sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion.” That sparked attacks from gubernatorial candidates and abortion rights groups.
But the governor last week said he’s pro-choice: “I always have been. And I made no qualms about that when I was elected governor.” He touted the bill’s efforts to give low-income women access to abortions, arguing, “no woman should be forced to make a different decision than another woman makes purely based on her income.”
The signing prompted immediate backlash from many Republican legislators, some of whom pledged to find a candidate to challenge the governor in the March primary.
It also led John Tillman, a close Rauner ally and head of the conservative think tank the Illinois Policy Institute, to dub him “Benedict Rauner.”
The U.S. House approved the bill outlawing late-term abortions by a near party-line 237-189 vote. The Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 but opened the door to some state restrictions. Forty-three states bar some abortions at certain points during pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that favors abortion rights.
Contributing: Associated Press