The Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group, continued last week to argue its case against an Illinois law allowing taxpayer funding for abortion.
The law, signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, last year, removes language from state law that kept taxpayers from funding abortion through state Medicaid funds and state employee health insurance plans. It also removes language protecting life from conception.
Pro-life groups and legislators filed suit in December, citing Illinois’ balanced budget requirement: The state had not earmarked existing funds to pay for abortions. Official estimates put the cost at about $1.8 million a year.
A Sangamon County Circuit Court judge threw out the case in December, and Thomas More attorney Peter Breen, also an Illinois state representative, argued the case before a state appellate court in Springfield on Wednesday.
Breen described the justices as “very engaged in the arguments.” While Breen said it’s impossible to predict which way they will decide in the fall he hopes they will consider the wider financial ramifications.
“Illinois is known as the country’s fiscal basket case,” Breen said. “To now take the lone limitation on the general assembly’s power to spend money and throw it out the window, that’s just devastating to anyone who’s paying taxes in the state of Illinois.”
In the meantime, Breen said it is possible that no taxpayer dollars have yet gone to pay for abortions. While the law technically went into effect Jan. 1, money had not yet flowed to abortion providers in April, when local media outlets asked about it.
Breen added that legislators are closely watching the case unfold: “If there's even a deterrence effect from the fact that our lawsuit is on file, then that’s a positive impact we’ve made.” —S.G.