Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Republican Illinois governor OKs state funds for abortion

Abortion | Gov. Bruce Rauner shocked pro-life advocates by supporting a bill he initially opposed
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 10/02/17, 02:16 pm

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, signed a bill Thursday approving taxpayer funding for abortion and protecting state abortion provisions in the event the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade.

“I personally am pro-choice,” Rauner said at a news conference before signing the bill. “I always have been. And I made no qualms about that when I was elected governor. And I have not and never will change my views. I personally believe that a woman should have, must have, the right to decide what goes on in her own body.”

Rauner’s decision to sign HB 40 came as a surprise to sponsors and opponents alike. In April, his office issued a statement in support of “reproductive rights under current Illinois law” but against the bill.

HB 40 removes language from existing Illinois law that blocked taxpayer funding for abortion through state Medicaid funds and state employee health insurance. It also strikes down language that defined an unborn child as “a human being from the time of conception” and entitled to legal protection. It also takes out a provision that effectively would ban abortion if the U.S Supreme Court ever reverses its 1973 decision to legalize the practice. 

Before signing the bill, Rauner met with Republican leaders, as well as opponents and proponents of the bill, and said “we are assessing” what to do. Proponents of the bill urged him to stick with his pro-abortion views, while Republican lawmakers, Illinois Right to Life, and other pro-life groups urged the governor to maintain his initial stance against the bill.

“If Gov. Bruce Rauner signs HB 40, he will be publicly repudiated by pro-lifers throughout the entire state of Illinois,” Rosemary Hackett, president of Illinois Right to Life, said in a statement released prior to the bill’s signing last week. “He promised to veto this horrendous legislation, which would force all Illinois taxpayers to pay for free abortions for those on Medicaid and state employees, which can be done through all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason—even when the unborn child can feel pain and survive outside the womb.”

Pro-life Republicans decried Rauner’s decision to sign the bill. State House Republican Floor Leader Peter Breen said it betrayed the party’s trust and portends a primary challenge for Rauner. 

“It’s not that hard to get on the ballot to be governor when you’ve got this kind of groundswell of opposition that I believe is going to be mounting here in the next few days,” Breen told reporters. “When you look someone in the eye and shake their hand and tell them you’re going to do something and then you reverse course, that’s a broken commitment.”

While the 1977 Hyde Amendment bans federal Medicaid funds from covering abortion—except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life—states can use Medicaid funds for the procedure. Seventeen states, including Illinois, have opted to do so.

According to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the bill will cost the state $1.8 million a year.

In June, Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, also signed a bill ensuring legal abortion throughout pregnancy if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, while Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, also a Democrat, approved a bill in August to mandate insurance plans cover abortion and contraception.

Associated Press/Photo by Alex Washburn (file) Associated Press/Photo by Alex Washburn (file) Pro-lifer demonstrators march during the 2015 Walk for Life rally in San Francisco.

California bill threatens freedoms of religion and speech

California Assembly Bill 569, which would bar employment discrimination based on “reproductive health” decisions, hit Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk last week.

Pro-life groups see the bill as a threat to religious liberty and freedom of speech, as it would nullify employee codes of conduct that cover the use of contraception and abortion.

California ProLife Council director Brian Johnston said the bill is “really taking rights away from an employer, who they hire, how they hire.”

He added, “I’m almost certain this will be litigated, and under a normal court of law, I think we would have a good chance of being successful in the challenge.”

But any challenge must go through the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has “treated the definitive nature of the law with a lot of lassitude,” Johnston pointed out.

John Gerardi, director of Right to Life of Central California, said while the law may harm the ability for pro-life groups to promote pro-life ideas, the real attack is on freedom of religion. 

“If you’re a Catholic school, if you’re a Christian school, if you’re an orthodox Jewish institution, you purport to exist in order to advance the teachings and beliefs of your religious community,” he said. “How can you expect to advance the teaching of your religion on the sanctity of human life if you can’t even uphold it within your hiring practice?”

The bill sets up Christian employers for lawsuits, and it likely had “hostile” intentions, Gerardi said.

Sarah Pitlyk, an attorney with the Thomas More Society, represents pro-life groups and individuals in their suit against a St. Louis ordinance barring discrimination by employers, landlords, or lending agencies for “reproductive health decisions.” Legislators overturned part of the ordinance in a special session called this summer by Gov. Eric Greitens, but Pitlyk said enough controversy remains that her clients’ lawsuit will continue.

What comes of it “could be a bellwether for what’s going to happen for the California legislation or to others.”

Though the California bill doesn’t invite as many legal objections as the St. Louis ordinance did, it still would threaten religious institutions’ ability to uphold ethical codes of conduct.

“You certainly could not fire a Catholic school teacher for getting pregnant out of wedlock, or getting an abortion and talking to her students about it, or anything like that,” Pitlyk said. “That’s why they are passing it, to prevent that from happening, to protect people in that situation from being fired, but obviously that flies in the face of what the Catholic Church wants of its teachers.” —S.G.

Associated Press/Photo by J. David Ake Associated Press/Photo by J. David Ake News crews set up outside the Supreme Court for the first day of the 2017 term.

Planned Parenthood appeals to Supreme Court for licensure

Planned Parenthood asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case against a Missouri law that requires abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and mandates abortion facilities meet surgical center standards.

The law has hampered the abortion giant’s attempts to regain licenses for its Missouri facilities in Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, and Joplin.

In April, a judge blocked the law, but last month the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted enforcement of that ruling.

In its appeal, Planned Parenthood points to the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that struck down a similar law in Texas. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office vowed to continue defending the state’s laws. —S.G.

FBI mum on Planned Parenthood investigation

The FBI confirmed it received the Senate Judiciary Committee’s referral of eight organizations for investigation due to their involvement in the illegal fetal tissue trade. But officials won’t say whether the agency has opened an investigation, citing FBI policy against such disclosures.

Gregory Brower, the FBI’s assistant director for the Office of Congressional Affairs, responded to an inquiry by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in a letter dated April 24 and obtained by Breitbart News.

“We can confirm the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of FBI Headquarters received your referrals and sent them to the relevant FBI field offices for review and whatever action is deemed appropriate,” Brower wrote. —S.G.

Kentucky ultrasound requirement struck down

A federal judge ruled Wednesday against a Kentucky law requiring abortionists to provide ultrasounds and describe the images to mothers before abortions.

U.S. District Judge David Hale’s ruling handed a victory to the American Civil Liberties Union in their suit on behalf of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville.

Kentucky also faces an ongoing lawsuit from the abortion center over the state’s claim it doesn’t meet current hospital transfer agreement requirements. —S.G.

Indiana to appeal Down syndrome abortion ban ruling

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced last week he plans to appeal a federal judge’s ruling against a state law banning abortion on the basis of race, sex, or disability such as Down syndrome. 

“A federal judge has cleared the path for genetic discrimination that once seemed like science fiction,” Hill told The Indianapolis Star.

U.S. District Judge Tonya Pratt blocked the law with a permanent injunction last month after temporarily suspending it following a challenge from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. —S.G.

Florida abortion law struck down

A federal judge ruled Friday against a Florida law that requires groups that refer for abortion to register with the state and provide women with details on abortion procedures and alternatives.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling handed a victory to three pro-abortion individuals and the Palm Beach chapter of the National Organization for Women. —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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  • JerryM
    Posted: Mon, 10/02/2017 07:05 pm

    One theme among the above articles:  The "elites" appear to be continuing to push against the will of the people.

  • Trumpetly Speaking
    Posted: Mon, 10/02/2017 09:01 pm

    I agree, and lament the all out abandonment of women and their babies to the abortioner.  Women deserve better than abortion.  And what an aptly ugly picture of this man at the head of these articles.