Governor Rauner announced today that he will sign into law House Bill 40, which authorizes abortion funding under the state Medicaid program, as well as under the state insurance programs for state employees, and eliminates the Illinois “trigger” law that would have banned abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court were ever to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Statement by Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority:

“The Governor’s decision is a game-changer in the fight for reproductive justice and for the over 557,000 women of reproductive age currently enrolled in Medicaid in Illinois alone, as well as the one-in-five women of reproductive age nationwide who are enrolled in Medicaid. It is the first time in over two decades that a state will voluntarily provide Medicaid-funded abortion care for low-income and/or disabled women. Furthermore, women will no longer have to choose between a job with the Illinois state government and comprehensive reproductive healthcare coverage. It is all the more monumental that this legislation was passed essentially along party lines by a Democratic majority state senate and house, but will now be signed into law by a Republican governor.

The Feminist Majority applauds Governor Rauner and the legislative co-sponsors led by Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D) and Senator Heather A. Steans (D), as well as the state’s reproductive justice advocates who have prioritized lifting the ban on Medicaid funding for abortion because of the harm that it inflicts on women.

Today, Governor Rauner demonstrated through his announcement that Medicaid-funded abortions should not be a partisan issue, but rather a matter of economic justice. Abortion is not a constitutionally protected right for only wealthy women. Making decisions about what happens to one’s own body is a constitutionally protected right for everyone.

Poor women, just like women of greater means, deserve access to comprehensive, constitutionally-protected reproductive healthcare, which includes abortion. Medicaid isn’t supposed to be wielded as a weapon to punish poor women. But that is exactly what it becomes when we use women’s bodies as a battleground for a draconian agenda that the majority of Americans do not support.

The right to access abortion, no matter a woman’s income or place of residency, is a fundamental right in the fight for women’s equality. Not counting Illinois, only 14 states currently provide Medicaid funding for abortion beyond the federal Hyde Amendment restrictions, which only allow Medicaid funds to be used in cases of life-endangerment of the pregnant woman, rape or incest. The standard of life endangerment is so punitive that a poor woman suffering from cancer or other serious illness can be denied Medicaid funding for abortion. This cruelty must be stopped and the Hyde Amendment must be repealed through passage of the federal EACH Woman Act.

In the meantime, Illinois House Bill 40 leads the way to stopping this gross discrimination against low-income and disabled women.”