Lawsuit filed to block taxpayer funded abortions

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WAND)- The battle over House Bill 40 is not over yet. A newly filed lawsuit seeks to prevent the implementation of the measure allowing abortion coverage under Medicaid and state employee health insurance. 

The lawsuit was filed by the Thomas More Society on behalf of several pro-life groups and state lawmakers in Sangamon County Circuit Court Thursday. 

“The people of Illinois totally reject taxpayer-funded abortions,” stated Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen, who drafted the lawsuit. “Under HB 40, Illinoisans will be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year with their tax dollars. Even apart from the sincere moral objections that many folks have to paying for abortions, there is no money in this year’s Illinois state budget to pay for them. 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, not January 1.

The lawsuit challenges two parts of the law. First, is says this law will go against the balanced budget requirement in the Illinois Constitution. The lawsuit contends that no money has been set aside to help pay for what they estimate would be 20,000 to 30,000 additional abortion procedures in the state. 

"It goes against the Illinois constitution. When you pass a budget you have to have a line item and you also have to have money in order to appropriate funds for a program, which this bill has neither. It's debatable question about how much it is going to cost I get that, but it's still going to have that requirement" said Tim Moore, president of Springfield Right to Life, who is named in the lawsuit. 

Second, it alleges that the law cannot go into effect on January 1, since it was passed after the May 31 deadline. 

“Regardless of your feelings about abortion, it is incredibly fiscally irresponsible to enact a law designed to spend millions of dollars that Illinois does not have,” said Breen. “The state legislative process has steps that must be correctly followed in order to prevent budget-busting laws like this from being ramrodded through. It is part of our civic process of checks and balances.” 

Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Chicago Kent School of Law, doesn't believe this lawsuit will hold up in court however. 

"Because there's no viable theory for pro-life advocates to challenge the substantive content of HB40, opponents' only legal recourse is a constitutional challenge on procedural grounds. They allege the General Assembly did not allocate money for reproductive healthcare services and that the timing of the legislation's passage prohibits it from going into effect before July 1, 2018. Ultimately, when deciding whether to put HB40 on hold, the courts will have balance the harms alleged to taxpayers and the harms that would come from restricting access to reproductive healthcare. I think it is highly unlikely whatever taxpayer interests the plaintiffs may have here will outweigh the vital interest thousands of Illinois women have in preserving their access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare services." he said in a statement to WAND.

The petition in this case has been set for hearing on Thursday, December 7 at 10:30 am. 

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

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