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A House Divided: The Illinois Abortion Wars

On September 28, 2017, Illinois Gov Bruce V. Rauner signed into law a sweeping reversal of abortion-constraining state policies. Sponsored and shepherded to passage by the Democratic majority in the Illinois General Assembly, the measure reinstates the use of public funds for abortion care under state insurance plans, including Medicaid. In explaining his decision to sign the legislation, Governor Rauner, a prochoice Republican, said “that a woman living with limited financial means should not be put in the position where she has to choose something different than a woman of higher income would be able to choose.”

The legislation, introduced on December 20, 2016, cleared the House on a party line vote of 62 to 55 the following April and was passed the following month by the Senate, in a 33 to 22 vote that was similarly divided by party. Although it was held up temporarily by a motion to “reconsider the vote” because of concerns over a potential gubernatorial veto, the motion was withdrawn on September 25, 2017, and signed by Governor Rauner 3 days later. The law is to take effect on January 1, 2018.

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