GOP Reps File Bill To Ban Use Of Taxpayer Funds For Abortions

Illinois State Capitol building
Illinois State Capitol. Source: Flickr

Springfield, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Two GOP members of the Illinois House, Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) and State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), legislation which they are calling the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” The bill would prohibit units of government in Illinois from using taxpayer funds for elective abortions, reversing key provisions of the recently enacted House Bill 40. Breen and McConchie are pressing for full debate and a floor vote on the measure during the upcoming fall veto session later this month, before HB 40 goes into effect in 2018, according to a statement released Thursday.

“With the signing of HB 40, Illinoisans will be put on the hook for roughly 75% of the state’s 40,000 annual elective abortions,” said Breen.

“Strong majorities of Illinoisans,” Breen claims, “especially folks in the suburbs and downstate, oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will respect both their pocketbooks and their consciences.”

Breen’s argument appears focused on fiscal concerns, “Considering the average cost of $1,000 per Medicaid abortion, we don’t have the $30 million required to cover 30,000 abortions every year.”

“The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act is a critical piece of legislation that respects the moral and fiscal concerns of our residents,” said McConchie. “In states that have legalized Medicaid abortions, over 50% of all abortions become taxpayer-funded. The residents in my suburban district are overwhelmingly opposed to this new spending scheme.”

The legislator say they are relying on data from the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood about income levels of those seeking abortions and payment data from other states that provide elective abortion funding.

The mission statement of the Guttmacher Institute states, “The Guttmacher Institute is a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally.”

According to the statement, Guttmacher indicates that 75% of women seeking abortions are below 200% Federal Poverty Level, and that, in states with elective abortion, over 50% of all abortions are paid for by Medicaid. The May 2016 report, Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014 and Changes Since 2008, actually states, “In 2014, three-fourths of abortion patients were low income—49% living at less than the federal poverty level, and 26% living at 100–199% of the poverty level.”

The report also indicates, “Many abortion patients reported a religious affiliation—24% were Catholic, 17% were mainline Protestant, 13% were evangelical Protestant and 8% identified with some other religion. Thirty-eight percent of patients had no religious affiliation.” The majority of patients, acording to Guttmacher, 53%, paid for their abortion out of pocket; Medicaid was the second-most-common method of payment, used by 24% of patients.

However, the statement from Breen and McConchie asserts, “Because Illinois’ Medicaid system extends eligibility to pregnant women up to at least 213% Federal Poverty Level, those who will be eligible for taxpayer funded abortions may be even higher than 75%.” Here, the statement cites income guidelines from the Illinois Department of Human Services. The legislators say they also received information from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services showing that the average cost, over the past five years, for a Medicaid abortion and ancillary services is approximately $1,000 per procedure.

Breen drafted the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the statement continues, on the model of the federal Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortions, other than for abortions sought in connection with pregnancies that result from rape or incest, or that threaten the life of the mother. Abortions under these circumstances constitute roughly 1% of all abortions, according to the statement. Federal law already requires states to provide Medicaid abortions under these three conditions, and the proposed Act recognizes those federal provisions, the statement says.

While the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act reverses the substantive provisions of HB 40 and prevents taxpayer funding for abortion at all levels of government, it adds new public policy language on abortion, not including controversial “trigger language” about Roe v. Wade that was at issue in HB 40, the statement says.

“The ‘trigger language’ in HB 40 had no legal effect, and there’s no need to reopen a theoretical debate about language from over 40 years ago. Instead, we wanted to start fresh with updated language and concepts that reflect the majority position of Illinoisans, especially folks in the suburbs and downstate, who care very deeply about this issue,” Breen added.

“This controversial and culturally divisive act should not be one that taxpayers should be forced to fund,” said McConchie. “Likewise, there is no good reason for taxpayers to be on the hook for someone else’s personal decision.”

Additionally, while the federal government typically matches a state’s Medicaid expenses, it will not do so for elective abortions. Breen has stated previously that, based on the estimated direct cost to the state of $30 million for abortions, the true impact to the Medicaid system is actually double that, $60 million in lost medical services.

“Within an hour of the filing of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, numerous legislators from across Illinois joined the bill as cosponsors,” the statement concludes. “The bills are pending as HB 4114 & SB 2241. Legislators are also considering legal action in the coming weeks to challenge whether HB 40 can be effective before June 1, 2018, due to it being held beyond the May 31 deadline set by the state constitution for the passage of bills. The current effective date is set at January 1, 2018, and legislators estimate the five-month difference in effective dates could prevent taxpayer funding of 10,000 abortions or more.

Sponsors for HB 4114 include GOP Reps. Peter Breen – Patricia R. Bellock – Norine K. Hammond – Jerry Costello, II – Terri BryantDavid B. ReisMichael D. UnesAvery BourneSara Wojcicki JimenezTony McCombieBarbara WheelerJeanne M IvesMargo McDermedChristine WingerSheri JesielMark BatinickTim ButlerC.D. DavidsmeyerDavid McSweeneyThomas MorrisonRobert W. PritchardSteven ReickAllen SkillicornJoe SosnowskiCharles MeierBill Mitchell and  Tom Demmer.

SB 2241 is not yet listed on the Illinois General Assembly’s web page.

The bill is unlikely to advance very far without Democratic support.

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