December 1, 2017

GOP lawmakers, pro-life groups sue state over taxpayer-funded abortion measure

A group of Republican Illinois lawmakers and pro-life organizations are suing the state of Illinois in an attempt to block controversial new legislation that would allow taxpayer dollars to be used to pay for elective abortions in the state.

The Thomas More Society said it filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs and taxpayers across the state today in Sangamon County Circuit Court to halt implementation of House Bill 40.

"The people of Illinois totally reject taxpayer-funded abortions," Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen, who drafted the lawsuit, said in a statement. Breen also is a Republican state representative from Lombard.

"Under HB40, Illinoisans will be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year with their tax dollars," Breen said. "Even apart from the sincere moral objections that many folks have to paying for abortions, there is no money in this year’s Illinois state budget to pay for them."

Gov. Bruce Rauner angered many in his own party when he signed the Democratic-passed legislation in late September. The bill, which is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, allows taxpayer funds to be used for elective abortions through Medicaid and state employees' health insurance. Rauner, who is pro choice, became the first U.S. governor in the country to sign legislation that allows taxpayer funding for elective abortions. Up until the new law takes effect, abortion is covered under Medicaid in Illinois only if the mother's health or life is at risk or in the case of rape or incest.

Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, decided to run for governor in next year's Republican primary against Rauner after he signed the legislation.

The lawsuit filed Thursday claims HB40 violates the balanced budget requirements of the Illinois Constitution because the General Assembly has not funded the initiative. It also argues that the measure should not take effect until June 1, 2018, because the Senate did not release it until Sept. 25.

"The Illinois Constitution imposes a May 31 cut-off date for General Assembly action for bills to go into effect faster," a news release from the Thomas More Society reads. "If implemented, despite its illegality, HB 40 would force every Illinoisan to pay for free abortions for those on Medicaid and state employee health insurance. This would apply through the full nine months of pregnancy and for any reason, even when the latest scientific research has shown that the unborn child can feel pain and survive outside the womb."

Taxpayer-funded abortions could cost between $15 million and $30 million annually if the legislation is allowed to stand, according to the lawsuit.

The State of Illinois is unique in having a tradition of allowing taxpayer lawsuits, which are brought by private individuals to protect the public treasury.

"Regardless of your feelings about abortion, it is incredibly fiscally irresponsible to enact a law designed to spend millions of dollars that Illinois does not have," Breen said. "The state legislative process has steps that must be correctly followed in order to prevent budget-busting laws like this from being ramrodded through. It is part of our civic process of checks and balances."

The action is know as taxpayer lawsuit, which according to the news release is brought by private individuals "to protect the public treasury. Illinois law requires such a suit to be brought by a petition for leave to file a complaint."

A hearing has been scheduled before Sangamon County Associate Judge Brian T. Otwell for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 7.

Republican state legislators listed as plaintiffs are Reps. Barbara Wheeler, Mark Batinick, Steve Reick and Keith Wheeler, and Sens. Dale Fowler, Kyle McCarter, Dan McConchie, and Paul Schimpf.

Also joining the lawsuit are Pro-Life Action League, Springfield Right to Life, Clinton County Citizens For Life, Henry County Right to Life, Inc. Knox County Right to Life, Lake County Right to Life Committee, Morgan County Right to Life, Pro-Life Action League, Illinois Right to Life Action, Illinois Federation for Right to Life, and the Diocese of Springfield In Illinois.