Bruce Rainer signed a bill Thursday allowing taxpayer dollars to fund abortions for women enrolled in Medicaid.
NARAL Pro-Choice America applauded Rauner's move Thursday.
Gov. Rauner, a Republican serving his first term, has openly supported abortion rights but has also assured pro-lifers that he would veto House Bill 40. "While Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans continue their vendetta against Roe v. Wade, we applaud IL for standing by women and our reproductive rights".
Governor Rauner has 60 days to make a decision on the bill.
On Friday, an IN judge issued a permanent injunction against a law that would have prohibited abortions sought specifically because the fetus had been diagnosed with Down syndrome or other disabilities. Before Rauner's signature, IL law stipulated that Medicaid recipients were eligible for abortions only in cases of rape, incest, health and life of the mother.
The restrictions were signed into law a year ago by Vice President Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana. The bill would also protect the right to abortion in IL - even if the unthinkable happens and Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Illinois Right to Life estimates this bill will lead to 12,000 additional abortions each year at a cost of more than $21 million.
"The passions, the emotions, the sentiments on both sides of these issues are very powerful", said Mr. Rauner, who this spring said he opposed the legislation he was now signing.
With a wide field of Democrats already angling to replace him, Mr. Rauner's political path forward seems increasingly uncertain, especially if religious conservatives unite behind a different candidate in a Republican primary race. "While I disagree with the governor on this, we must focus on our areas of agreement - enacting real reforms we need to turn IL around". But now, by signing HB 40, he is forcing IL taxpayers to pay for abortions. (Critics of the measure say the "trigger law" would have had no material effect, and that abortion rights activists drug it out of a 1975 statute to stir up trouble for Rauner.) It will also cover abortions under both Medicaid and state employees' health insurance plans.
In recent weeks, Rauner backtracked, signaling he was open to the bill. Thanks to those voices, House Bill 40 will become law in IL.
Sixty-four percent of voters in an April poll said the governor should "act to protect the reproductive health care of ALL women in IL".
"House Bill 40's expansion of taxpayer-funded abortions in IL, which already exceeds federal guidelines, moves IL beyond the position of 47 other states by expanding taxpayer funding for purely elective procedures", he said.
Pat Brady is the former chair of the Illinois Republican Party and a strong Rauner supporter.
Elected under the campaign promise to be neutral on social issues, Rauner stated earlier this year that he had meant to veto HB 40 due to its provision expanding taxpayer funding of abortions, labeling the measure "too controversial".