SPRINGFIELD, IL — A judge rejected a conservative Catholic group’s effort to block a new law that permits state health insurance and Medicaid to cover abortions. The legislation, signed in September by Gov. Bruce Rauner, drew the ire of many Republicans and conservative groups, who accused Rauner of breaking a promise to veto the bill. The Thomas More Society was requesting an emergency injunction as part of a lawsuit that seeks to prevent the law from going into effect on Jan. 1.
Sangamon County Associate Judge Jennifer M. Ascher on Thursday afternoon rejected the lawsuit, according to ABC Chicago. NPR reporter Brian Mackey live-tweeted the hearing, calling Ascher’s decision a “total victory for the state, total loss for anti-abortion side.”
The Thomas More Society previously said the injunction would stop “tens of thousands of taxpayer-funded abortions in the New Year.”
State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) serves as the Thomas More Society’s special counsel, and says the new law means taxpayers will fund as many as.
“Even apart from the sincere moral objections that many folks have to paying for abortions, there is no money in the Illinois state budget to pay for them,” Breen said in a statement posted on the Thomas More Society website. “And, because of games played by Senate Democrats, in holding HB 40 until late September, after the May 31 cutoff for legislative action, this bill can’t be effective until June 1, certainly not on January 1.”
He called the new law illegal and said the measure “would force every Illinoisan to pay for free abortions for those on Medicaid.”
Other legislators have praised the law. Sen Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) in September called the measure “a victory for women’s reproductive rights” and a victory for Illinois residents who “have written, called and marched to demand that the governor live up to his responsibility to the women of our state.”
Breen said the group will appeal the judge’s decision, according to ABC Chicago. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and will seek an immediate appeal,” he said, adding, “The Illinois Constitution was clearly violated here.”
Patch photo by Dennis Robaugh